• Spellbinding debut: Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara on first American tour
     | September 28,2012
    Youri Lenquette photo

    Hot ticket: West African singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara, a rising star on the world music scene, brings her spellbinding sound to the Hop’s Spaulding Auditorium at Dartmouth on Saturday, one of only two New England dates on her first U.S. tour as a bandleader.

    Born and raised in the musically rich West African country of Mali, Fatoumata Diawara — already an established actor and dancer — ran away to Paris to escape an arranged marriage and pursue a career in acting. Now a rising star on the world music scene, the 30-year-old singer-songwriter brings her spellbinding music and stage presence to the Hopkins Center for the Arts Spaulding Auditorium at Dartmouth on Saturday. This is one of only two New England dates on her first U.S. tour as a bandleader.

    Diawara is touring in support of her lauded debut album, “Fatou” (her nickname), which was released last month in the U.S. Released last year in Europe, the album — which topped the European world music chart for over six months — was deemed the No. 1 world music album of 2011 by The Sunday London Times, while the Telegraph of London called Diawara “the most beguiling talent to hit the world music scene in some time” in its five-star CD review. And Nat Geo Music called it “one of the most exciting world music releases of 2011.”

    Closer to home, the Chicago Sun-Times last week called the album “a joyous mix of vibrant songs about love, politics and empowerment,” adding, “Elements of jazz, pop and funk, along with her ancestral Wassoulou traditions, fit nicely with her warm, affecting vocals and her own guitar playing and percussion.”

    “The lyrics touch on serious subjects in Malian society — female circumcision, a woman’s right to choose her spouse, and her own experience with the African practice of being raised away from her parents,” said the Sun-Times. “Yet the songs are filled with warmth, confidence and a spontaneous charm.”

    Diawara’s stunning debut album will surely stand as one of the year’s best world music releases, and her spirited live performances are not to be missed.

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