Teatre Grec 05/07
“Something To Say”. This is more or less what Fenfo, the title of Malinese artist Fatoumata Diawara’s new album, means in the Bambara language. It is her second album, after Fatou, her debut recording which garnered her rave reviews in prestigious publications, such as The Guardian and Pitchfork, and from renowned artists, such as Gilles Peterson. Her first album showed that she is one of the great stars of modern music, representing a continent where experimentation and avant-garde creation are combined with tradition. In Fenfo, modern guitar sounds coexist with chords from the kora and the kamele ngoni, while drum machines blend in with traditional percussion. All with the aim of recreating rhythms of yesteryear and today, ranging from blues to punk and Afropop, with the driving energy of rock. There are eleven songs, mostly in Bambara, each of which tells a story, as if it were Fatoumata Diawara’s way of compiling the rich oral tradition of the continent. Respect, humiliation, migration, love, equality, family... These are all concepts that appear in the artist’s songs, a woman who lives in Como, but whose roots are deeply set in Mali, her parent’s homeland, which she often visits. She has collaborated or coincided on stage with music greats, from Bobby Womack and Herbie Hancock to the Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca, not to mention Paul McCartney, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Cheikh Lô.
This woman, who was determined to be the first African performer to play the electric guitar professionally, was born in Abidjan, in the Ivory Coast, but she ended up living in Bamako (Mali) with an aunt who was an actress. The aunt’s influence took her to Europe, to become a film actress, form part of a French theatre company and to contribute her singing voice to albums made by great masters of modern music. She is a fighter, a front-line defender of a continent which, it should be remembered, is full of beauty and not just war, hunger and violence. However, she is not afraid to criticise it in her songs, in regard to controversial subjects like female genital mutilation.
A Montuno production.
Vocals and guitar: Fatoumata Diawara Bass: Tito Bonacera Guitar: Yacouba Kone Keyboards and piano: Arecio Smith Drums: Jean-Baptiste Gbadoé Produced by: Montuno
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