|Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara (Fatou) was born of Malian parents in the Ivory Coast in 1982. As a child she became a member of her father's dance troupe and was a popular performer of the wildly flailing didadi dance from Wassoulou, her ancestral home in western Mali.
The Didadi is from the Bougouni circle in Mali’s Sikasso region. It is played for end-of-the-year holidays or various celebrations and festivals. There are many different interpretations of the rhythm and dance.
Her parents send her to live by an aunt in Bamako, who was an actress, and a few years after arriving, Fatou was given a one line part in the final scene of the film 'Taafe Fangan' ('The Power of Women'). This led to her being given a lead role by the celebrated director Cheick Omar Sissoko in his 1999 film 'La Genèse' (Genesis) and after that in many other films. Her acting carreer was ended by her family, who wanted her to settle down and marry. In 2002 she was offered a part in the production of Jean-Louis Courcoult. When her family refused permission, she ran away and took a plane for Paris, just in time befor the police could catch her. She toured around the world with this production.
On her return to France Fatou took the role of Karaba in the popular touring musical 'Kirikou and Karaba'. She was inspired by her friend Rokia Traore to take up the guitar: “a Malian girl with an acoustic guitar. Why should the guitar be only for men?" Fatou bought herself a guitar and started to teach herself, and at the same time began to write down her own compositions. Fatou’s debut full length album ‘Fatou’ was released on 19 September 2011. The album was awarded No.1 album 2011 in the world music charts, where it remained for 6 months.
In September Fatou 2012 boarded the Africa Express Train with Damon Albarn, Baaba Maal, Amamdou and Mariam, Nicolas Jaar, and the Noisettes, amongst many others. The tour was a huge success and culminated in a venue at Kings Cross where Fatou performed with Paul McCartney.