Rising Malian singer, songwriter, guitarist and acclaimed actress Fatoumata Diawara is set for the release of her second solo full length album Fenfo (which translates as “Something to Say”), out May 18 on Shanachie Entertainment. In celebration of the forthcoming album, NPR Music is premiering the video for the album’s first single “Nterini,” directed by Ethiopian photographer and contemporary artist Aïda Muluneh whose work is slated to appear in the “Being: New Photography 2018” exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art later this month. Watch the video, which NPR Music hails as “a subtle, affecting reminder of the global migration crisis,” at http://n.pr/2oXtqkT, and share it via YouTube at [LINK HERE].
Diawara will support the long-awaited album with a slate of performances in select North American cities; see below for a list of dates.
Having performed with some of the biggest names in contemporary music, including Bobby Womack, Herbie Hancock, Roberto Fonseca, Amadou & Mariam, Oumou Sangaré, Toumani Diabaté, Flea and many more, Diawara most recently appeared at Carnegie Hall alongside David Crosby, Chris Thile, Snarky Puppy and others for an evening of topical protest music. Rolling Stone noted that, “the singer and guitarist, originally from Mali, provided two of the night’s most striking moments. Her ode to the power of women, ‘Mousso,’ sung in her native language, was hypnotic, and her captivating stage spins enhanced her anthemic ‘Unite.’”
Of the direction of her new music, Diawara comments, “I didn’t want to sing in English or French because I wanted to respect my African heritage. But I wanted a modern sound because that’s the world I live in. I’m a traditionalist but I need to experiment, too. You can keep your roots and influences but communicate them in a different style.” She continues, “Fenfo expresses how I feel and how I want to sound. It’s a record that says who I am.”
In addition to the Aïda Muluneh-directed “Nterini” video, the music on Fenfo is accompanied by Muluneh’s photography. Both the photo and video shoot took place in the remote Afar region of Ethiopia, to which archeologists have traced the origin of humanity.
Diawara broke out in 2011 with her debut album, Fatou, which featured guest performances from legendary musicians John Paul Jones, Tony Allen and Toumani Diabaté. The record was hailed by Pitchfork as a “beguiling album” that “simply surrounds you with its atmosphere,” while The Guardian praised it as “an enjoyable, impressive set.”
About Fatoumata Diawara
One of 11 children born to Malian parents in Ivory Coast, she grew up in the ’90s in the Malian capital of Bamako. A celebrated child actor, Diawara starred in Dani Kouyaté’s critically acclaimed 2001 film Sia, The Dream of the Python. At age 19 she left home against the wishes of her family and joined the French street theater company Royale de Luxe, with whom she toured the world and began singing in the clubs and cafes of Paris. Diawara eventually found herself singing backing vocals for Dee Dee Bridgewater and Malian superstar Oumou Sangaré before signing with influential label World Circuit Records for her debut album. In addition to Sia, Diawara’s film credits include the Academy Award-nominated Timbuktu, Morbayassa and Clouds of Conakry, as well as the documentaries The Africa Express and Mali Blues.
About Aïda Muluneh
Aïda Muluneh is considered one of the leading experts on photography from Africa. She has worked as a photojournalist at the Washington Post and her freelance work has appeared in a wide array of prestigious publications. As an exhibiting artist, Muluneh’s work has been shown internationally. A collection of her images can be found in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art and her work will be showcased in the “Being: New Photography 2018” exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) later in March. Diawara and Muluneh first met in Paris in 2017 and quickly fell in love with each others’ work. Shot on location in the Afar region in the northeast of Ethiopia, the concept behind Fenfo’s album art and the “Nterini” video is based on Afrofuturist influences in combination with visual elements inspired by Mali’s Dogon ethnic group. “When we speak of the future of Africa and the movement of Afrofuturism, it is in a sense to re-imagine a different Africa, one that explores a different dialogue outside of the foreign gaze,” Muluneh explains.
“Nterini” video credits
Directed by Aïda Muluneh
Produced by Montuno
Music and script by Fatoumata Diawara
Director: Aïda Muluneh
Director of Photography: Daniel Girma
Production Assistance : Betelhem Hussien & Yemane G/Medihen
Stylist: Gouled Abishakour Ahmed
Edition & postproduction direction: Juan Gómez
Art Direction, modelling and animation 3D: Álvaro Rodríguez
Motion graphics & VFX: Fernando Sueiro
Colour correction: Yulia Bulashenko