Sul numero di Vogue Italia in edicola (gennaio 2014) è uscita una mia intervista a Fatoumata Diawara. Qui potete leggere la versione in inglese. (On the current issue of Vogue Italia – January 2014 – there’s my interview to Fatoumata Diawara. Here’s the English version.)


Singer and actress, Fatoumata Diawara left Mali to find freedom. And freedom itself is the core of her art.

Lively as the hope she wants to bring to her homeland: that’s how Fatoumata Diawara appears, and that’s how her style is, symbolized by the colourful dress she wore receiving the Art For Peace Award by Fondazione Umberto Veronesi, last November at Bocconi University. The singer and actress, better known as Fatou, fled from Mali when she was nineteen: her aunt –  who had her custody – didn’t accept her artistic career and wanted her to get married.

Fatou went back to Mali only in 2013 when she recorded, together with other Malian artists, “Mali-ko“, a peace hymn against the civil war that was devastating the country: “For me art is the exact opposite of war. When I get on stage, I carry a weapon, but it’s a weapon that creates melodies, it helps forget problems. We should not minimize the importance of music. It’s an instrument to unify the world.”

The hair adorned with small shells, Fatomata is always smiling, even when she faces painful issues as women’s emancipation: “I think the future of the world is in women’s hands. We nowadays live in a violent society because it is too masculine. I hope men will understand they have to give us the right space. Never underrate the power of mothers.” After collaborating with artists such as Damon Albarn, Fatou keeps touring the world (she’s in Turin, at Teatro Colosseo, on January 22nd), while working at her second studio album, centered again on themes crucial for her: “I don’t play for myself anymore, I feel like I must sing for young girls deserving more freedom.”

This claim becomes for her a style statement, too: “When on stage I play traditional instruments as the kora and I sing exclusively in bambara, my mothertongue. I wear traditional clothes as well, following Miriam Makeba’s example; I like to think that my audience travels a little with their mind through my shows, discovering something to enrich themselves with.” So is this what beauty really means? “Sure. When I look myself in the mirror, I feel like I have to fight to preserve my freedom. Music is like a bird that can fly free around the world.”

Paolo Armelli

Posted by Paolo Armelli