Preview: In the Round – Fatoumata Diawara @ Roundhouse (London; Thursday 30th January 2020)

Fatou Roundhouse

Brought to us by Malian superstar, Omou Sangare, Fatoumata Diawara has since surpassed her mentor to become the most important vocalist to come out of Africa since the likes of Stella Chiweshe and Brenda Fassie. I would never miss a chance to see this modern legend, with each show getting stronger and her voice becoming more powerful.

Diawara’s debut album Fatou, released in 2011, is one of the greatest modern African records, with ‘Sowa’ quickly becoming an anthem, being played by mainstream radio stations and club DJs alike. Although a slight drop-off in quality, the second album holds its own and shows a more political side to Diawara.

But when it comes to a performance such as Diawara, it doesn’t really matter what she is singing. Her voice is so rich and powerful, and it draws the attention of a crowd in a second of a note being belted out. I have seen a boisterous Friday night audience at the Jazz Cafe shut up by Diawara’s vocals, as well as a rowdy Siam tent at Womad almost brought to tears by the wealth of emotion in the delivery of a few lines in a language most didn’t understand.

Each time Diawara performs, the venue grows. And although the Roundhouse won’t offer the intimacy of some of the previous shows, I have no doubt that Diawara’s voice and stage presence, mostly made up of waving her long braided hair around the stage and getting down to the solos of her extremely talented band, she will be able to fill it.

An excellent performer who goes from strength to strength and has become one of the leading musicians of her generation. Don’t miss a chance to see a living legend of Malian and African music, a performer, activist and singer that is like no one else currently touring.

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