Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Fatoumata Diawara & Roberto Fonseca – Sowa (live)

It was only this time last month that we had our last Afro-Cuban blend on the Hub. Irresistible as it is here we are again, with a new duo ready to take the world music scene by storm. Diawara and Fonseca have been jamming together for a few years now and Diawara notes in this clip the ease of their friendship: though they do not spend all that much time together they already have plenty of content for live performances, even an album, albeit a live one of which today’s Song of The Week appears to be the highlight.

Fonseca through his expert piano playing brings what Cuban artists so often bring to Malian music; that unique Latin rhythm. Malians – Diawara included – furnish this setting with vocals, melodies and the more subtle familiarities found in African music. The uniqueness of the duo is found in Fonseca’s overtly jazz angle, whilst he expresses in interview a desire to use the collaboration as an opportunity to explore his personal ancestry, as well as that of his nation’s music, back to Africa. Hence the project’s hashtag #transatlanticmeeting. News broke last month of Malian librarians coming to their country’s rescue in their current political crisis by translating medieval manuscripts on good governance, peace and tolerance into modern languages, to use their lessons to “help us with today’s reality”.  In light of this would it be suitable to launch the hashtag #transgenerationalteaching?

I digress. To see the duo in action and join them on this adventure come see them at the Barbican in London on May 30th.  Promises to be a cracker.



Fatoumata Diawara & Roberto Fonseca – Sowa (live)


The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

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