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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Diawara electrifies with energetic set

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-7edad216-8721-afe7-ba90-374f62cc9e55">On Thursday night, the Concert Hall was abuzz with excitement. Students, professors, and community members flocked to see Fatoumata Diawara, a Malian actress and musician, perform. Born in the eighties in Cote D’Ivoire to Malian parents, Diawara made a name for herself in France as a young stage and film actress. She appeared in several acclaimed films and stage productions before taking up the guitar and committing herself full-time to a musical career (she has simultaneously continued her film career, appearing in the award-winning Timbuktu in 2014, in addition to writing the music for the film). Various campus groups, including the French Department, African/American Studies, Global Engagement Initiative, Special Projects Africa and Arts @ Carleton sponsored Diawara to bring her to perform as part of an ongoing World Music series.

From the moment Diawara and her band walked onstage, the energy in the Concert Hall lit up. Diawara, dressed in an elegant bright yellow skirt, opened her show with a bang and kept the audience enthralled the entire show. Diawara works in a blend of languages and styles, melding international influences with her Southern Malian roots, including Bambara, French, and Wassoulou in her lyrics. Known for bringing aspects of social justice into her art, Diawara sang about her hopes for world peace, the problem of female circumcision, Nelson Mandela and the beauty that surrounds her at home in Mali, among other things.

More than anything, Diawara’s performance was punctuated by dance. The room grew alive as her set continued, with Diawara taking frequent pauses to dance, eventually convincing the audience to join in with her. Her band, consisting of a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer, filled in her vibrant melodies and upbeat mood to create a vibrant sound. At times aching, but usually soaring, Diawara’s rich voice perfectly fit the different moods for each of her songs. While those not in attendance will not be able to take advantage of this opportunity to see Diawara, the performance could continue to draw attention to the World Music series as students and faculty seek opportunities to connect with culture beyond Carleton.

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