Fatoumata Diawara (known affectionately as "Fatou" by her fans) brought down the house at Brooklyn's BRIC April 4th. We were able to enjoy Fatou up close and personal at the BRIC House Ballroom. BRIC is a new multidisciplinary arts and media center designed to support artists and engage the public. It's the best of a community center and a cultural arts center combined (think SOB's meets 92nd Street Y) and refreshingly grassroots next to the more established BAM.
Visually, Fatou was stunning with her regal African beauty (Malian raised in Ivory Coast)--- sunset-colored traditional garb and accessories against a chartreuse stage backdrop. She started off lyrical and soulful and built to a crescendo with poignantly socially conscious lyrics and getting the audience to dance (even inviting some up on stage with her) and to participate in call-and-response.
Fatou wins the CULTSHA.com prize to date for her determination to promote social justice through her music which is a combination of traditional Malian Wassalou music and international influences. She introduces most of her songs with a courageous plea for awareness and change, and like a Malian griot she employs a guitar or like a Malian shaman she brandishes a horsetail whisk to call upon spiritual forces for their intercession. She introduces one song with a call for an end to female genital mutilation, saying "Women don't need that to be spiritual and powerful..... women are BORN spiritual and powerful!" And the crowd went wild, including yours truly. She even touches on her own experience, saying "I am cut, but it must end with me; we have to fight for the young girls today and all the girls to come after!" Introducing other songs, she pleads for peace in Africa; she praises Nelson Mandela and calls upon the men of Africa to be like him; she honors adoptive children (of which she is one); and she takes pride in being a voice for all the world's children and calls on us to do the same.
Fatou, CULTSHA.com is proud to profile you as the first iconic artist of its launch. May all artists be socially conscious instruments of change.