Wednesday 20 November 2019

On Stage: Fatoumata Diawara @ Paradiso

Malian artist Fatoumata Diawara had to leave her country to become a an actress. Or actually to stay one, since she was already performing when she was young. In the very religious Mali her parents didn't want her to sing and act, but instead she should start a family like a good devout young woman is supposed to. In France her acting career took off and she taught herself to play the guitar. She recorded two solo albums and her amazing talent didn't stay unnoticed for long. Now she's returning to Paradiso where I saw her several years ago.

Fatoumata Diawara at Paradiso Amsterdam, November 17 2019

Diawara is a very charismatic artist that spreads a lot of energy and good vibes. Her wonderful voice and beautiful smile is winning over everyone within no time. Her lovely songs are about the many problems Africa faces, including her homeland Mali, but also about the positive things happening there. Sometimes she introduces a song with a small story about its background. This is not only very interesting but also necessary since she sings mostly in the Malian language Wassoulou and I don't know what the songs are about.

Her band consists of very skilled musicians, that play the songs with a lot feeling. The African style songs really come alive on this cold November night here in Paradiso and bring the African sun instead. Diawara is the radiating centre of this band, who is firing up the crowd and her band members, moving around stage all the time. Her African dancing is full of energy, wildly tossing her hair around. At the same time she's showing her guitar skills, playing impressive solos.

With only two albums out, there still is a large variety in sound. There are highlife and afro-beat songs, folk songs, intimate ballads and uptempo dance tunes. All the time it has this lovely West-African vibe that I love so much with the playful tingling guitar lines. Diawara is making everyone clap along, dance along and jump along with her as she's leading with a big smile on her face.

Every musician gets a chance to show his amazing skills with impressive solos. The bassist makes his bass growl and slaps the hell out of it during his solo. The guitar player is going Jimi Hendrix and the drummer copies every line Diawara sings to his drum kit. After finishing the set, Diawara is not allowed to leave without playing an encore and of course she is happily returning to the stage for one more song, inviting some people over to dance with her. We can be really thankful she had the courage to chase her dreams.

All Pictures

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