When 29-year-old African singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara relocated from Mali to Paris, she went against her parents’ wishes and faced cultural opposition to pursue her music career. On Thursday, Sept. 20, she debuts her first tour in the United States at Kennedy Union’s Boll Theatre.
City Folk, an organization dedicated to promoting world music throughout southwest Ohio, in collaboration with the University of Dayton’s Arts Series, discovered the young artist’s inaugural album “Fatou” and were captivated by her talent, Arts Series director Eileen Carr said.
“Fatou,” released Sept. 19 of last year, secured its spot as No. 1 in the European music charts and held its position for six months according to nonesuch.com.
Although City Folk stumbled upon Diawara, Carr said she helps UD find and book artists like Diawara along with organizing the concerts and all of the incumbent details.
The popularity of Diawara’s music stems from its universality. Essences of jazz, folk and blues work together harmoniously to produce her unique sound. It appeals not only to African and world music genre fans, but to a wide-range of listeners.
“[Diawara’s music] is a beautiful blend of rhythm, and it makes it very accessible for young American audiences who might not be traditional music followers,” Carr said. “It’s easy to embrace.”
Her lyrics are crafted by her personal experience, including the hardships of being raised apart from her family and the oppression of women in her home country.
“[Diawara] represents a number of different world traditions and crosses a lot of boundaries, which is a great example at UD and part of what we’re about, looking at the world and not putting it in little boxes,” Carr said.
The Arts Series program and City Folk both aim to spread culture, and Carr said she believes Diawara’s upcoming concert will do just that.
“Experiencing these artists like Fatoumata is a wonderful opportunity to express authentic world culture without ever even leaving Ohio,” Carr said.
Students will have the opportunity to experience Diawara’s “spell-weaving” voice, according to the music magazine Mojo, at 8 p.m. on Sept. 20. General admission is $20, $10 for students and $18 for seniors, military, faculty and staff of UD.
For more information, contact the Arts Series at 937-229-2787 or visit its website at artsseries.udayton.edu.