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Fatoumata Diawara: NPR Front Row

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Wednesday January 16, 2013

From NPR

Fatoumata Diawara: NPR Front Row
By: Anastasia Tsioulcas

One of the breakout stars from this year’s edition of New York City’s globalFEST, Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara had the Webster Hall crowd wrapped around her finger. Gifted with enormous stage presence and great looks, Diawara — who was a dancer and actor before she joined iconic Malian vocalist Oumou Sangare’s band as a backup singer — put on a tightly choreographed set that screamed with energy and edged toward rock and funk. It’s an evolution even from the way she presented the same songs in a far more sedate singer-songwriter style on her debut album, Fatou, which came out last year.

Now based in France, Diawara tends toward socially conscious lyrics in any case, but her globalFEST appearance had a special poignancy and urgency: As she noted during her performance, a new civil war, spurred by Islamist forces in Mali’s north, has cracked her ancestral country wide open — and music has been banned in Islamist-controlled areas.

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