Fatoumata Diawara, African glow in the Grec. The Malian artist excelled as a singer, guitarist and stage figure defending the positive values of Africanity and vindicating Fela Kuti and Nina Simone.
The African impulse of Grec 2021 brought us this Monday the concert of an artist, Fatoumata Diawara, in which showy skills are condensed: singer with a slender voice, electric guitarist lends to the vibrant solo (traditionally male territory), actress with stage skills, spokesperson of an Africa that wants to dust itself off and look modern and resolute.
The 39-year-old Malian represents a cosmopolitan perspective, as reflected in her resume of collaborations, most recently with Gorillaz and Disclosure.
His is not really innovative, but he gives off personality in the way he develops the Mandingo and Afrobeat rhythms with his guitar, attracting the spotlight and opening up to funk, pop or the vestiges of gospel. A raw plucking with the Gibson SG, twisted with his reflective singing, opened the concert with a view to ‘Don do’, from his latest album, ‘Fenfo’ (2018), whose title means “something to say”.
Diawara has, indeed, a speech to share, texts in Bambara that speak of the hardships of African women, wars and outdated traditions. Tricky material, which he wrapped in lively, if somewhat linear, parliaments about “presenting Africa to the world in a positive sense” and the power of music as “the opposite of war.”
Transfers in Barcelona
The songs unfolded in long rhythmic loops, because it was about bathing us in that notion of absorbing music with a cadence of fine rain. Smooth architecture, with a quartet that included musicians enlisted in Barcelona, bassist Tito Bonacera (Jaleo Real, Nathy Peluso) and keyboardist Arecio Smith (Astrio).
A group ready for a lysergic trance with rock musculature in pieces like ‘Kanou’, with a synthesizer solo. Too bad the choirs that sneaked in from time to time were prerecorded.
In the center, she, her guitar and her dance moves, red skirt to the wind, with her natural charisma, her broad-spectrum singing, with angry bass and piercing highs, and her enthusiasm when speaking of pioneers and leaders: from Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba and Angelique Kidjo to a Nina Simone that she evoked with a ‘Sinnerman’ with high rhythmic tension. From there to our own favorites like ‘Sowa’, already with El Grec on the dance floor, although without moving a hair away from our chairs.