Fatoumata Diawara, a 28 year old singer from Mali and well established actress and chorister released her debut album “Fatou” in September 2011. The album contains passionate soul music, with a blend of African Wassoulou music and international rhythms.
Wassoulou is a genre of Western African popular music named after the region of Wassoulou. The music is mainly interpreted by women and tackles problems such as love, children, marriage and other topics of female concern. Wassoulou is the antecessor of the pre-colonial blues music.
The first song of the album “Kanou” is an homage to love. The sounds of the calabash instruments and the guitars play a sensual rhythm which perfectly aligns with Diawara’s powerful voice and invites the audience to join into a dance. “Bakonoba” portrays typical West African sounds. The song reminds of laughter, warmth and a smile. Interestingly, there is a huge difference between the music itself and the meaning of the lyrics. Diawara sings about discrimination and exclusion due to physical appearance, such as obesity, however, she criticizes in benign way with a smile rather than pointing fingers and blaming someone.
Other songs of the album deal with social problems, such as discrimination, adoption and emigration. Diawara touches serious political issues, such as the issue of female genital mutilation in her song (“Boloko”). She furthermore states that Boloko is a protest against the practice of FGM which the singer will never stop singing until FGM has become history.
Altogether, “Fatou” is a very feminine and sensual album and a truly felicitous debut.