Hailed as one of the most vital standard-bearers of modern African music, Fatoumata Diawara takes her artistry to fresh and thrilling heights on her new album FENFO. Boldly experimental yet respectful of her roots, it’s a record that defines her as the voice of young African womanhood – proud of her heritage but with a vision that looks confidently to the future and a message that is universal.
Her spectacular 2011 debut album Fatou made the Malian singer and guitarist the most talked about new African artist on the planet. FENFO (which translates as “something to Say”’) dramatically fulfils that promise on a set of vivid and original new compositions that draw on the rich experiences she has enjoyed since.
“I’ve had so many different musical adventures since the last album, touring and working with so many other musicians and I think you can hear how all of that feeds into this record,” she says. “This is my time and I’m sharing my soul.”
Those she has worked with include some of the biggest names in contemporary music. She recorded with Bobby Womack and Herbie Hancock; played Glastonbury and other major festivals; and toured with the Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca. She assembled a West African super-group featuring Amadou and Mariam, Oumou Sangaré and Toumani Diabaté to record a song calling for peace in her troubled homeland; and climbed aboard Damon Albarn’s star-studded Africa Express, which culminated in her sharing a stage with Sir Paul McCartney.
His music is both ultra modern, re ecting the life of a man who can feel at home on four continents, and shot through with a deep respect for older traditions and identities. It works both instantly, with the lilt and groove of a natural entertainer, and as lasting food for thought, full of deep and intriguing questions.
Travelling is in Tanguy’s blood: born in the Demo- cratic Republic of Congo, his family were constantly back and forth to both Belgium and Kinshasa. “I was accustomed to y at a very, very young age,” he says. “Even alone - a very early memory is my brothers and I being taken care of by a hostess on the plane.” He grew up surrounded by the zouk and rumba music of his Congolese relatives, but it was in Brussels, while at school, that he started to make music. To begin with it was just “rapping to rap records and trying to sing to Michael Jackson records - then one day I had to do a school assignment, so I decided to rap it instead of speaking it out loud, and some people in my school were looking for a singer for their band and that’s how I got into rehearsing and doing concerts.”