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Fatoumata Diawara: NPR Front Row

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.

Set List

  • "Soncolo"
  • "Sowa"
  • "Bissa"
  • "Kele"
  • "Mon Afrique"
  • "Alama"
  • "Tounkan"
  • "Salimata"
  • Credits

    Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Anastasia Tsioulcas; Videographers: Christopher Parks, A.J. Wilhelm; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Video Editor/Assistant Producer: Denise DeBelius; Special Thanks to: Webster Hall, globalFEST 2013; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann, Keith Jenkins.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.
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