Melodies from Mali at The Broad
With powerful emotional expressions and rhythms from the musically rich culture of Mali, Fatoumata Diawara and her band members gave The Broad Stage’s crowded concert hall a unique musical experience on Friday night, that would have the audience on its feet dancing.
The Malian singer Diawara, born on the Ivory Coast but now based in Paris, has claimed fans worldwide with her original compositions now featured in her debut album “Fatou." In it she tells her turbulent life story which includes rebelling against her family’s Wassoulou traditions in order to find freedom.
“Music is power, it saves my country,” Diawara said before the show and explained that her music has helped her share her experiences from Mali and reach a new level of happiness.
At 7:30 p.m. Diawara kicked off the 90-minute concert by welcoming the audience with a solo number in the form of acoustic song “Wilil." Diawara filled the concert hall with her raspy voice and smooth guitar chords before her three band members, Jean Baptiste on drums, Jal on bass, and Greg Emonet on guitar joined her for the rest of the evenings show.
The night's most memorable moment came when Diawara asked the audience to stand up in order to send health and love to the children of the world while she was singing “Sowa." During the song she explained that parents should never give away their children to be raised by others. Diawara shared how this had been a scarring experience in her own life.
There was something special about Diawara. Even when she sang in the language of Bambara, it felt as if you did not have to know the language to understand what the lyrics were saying – her emotions were so powerful that they transcended language.
“Her personality is infectious,” concert goer Wamahu Wawera said and explained that she was amazed by Diawara’s ability to connect with people.
By the end of the concert, Diawara put her guitar to the side and began performing a traditional African dance. She wanted to transport the audience back to Mali with her.
The audience started to move along with Diawara, creating a wave of swaying bodies and hips that overtook the concert hall.
From that moment on, the stage was lit up with all the vibrant colors of a rainbow as Diawara performed the exhilarating final number. She combined singing and dancing and even allowed members of the audience to accompany her on stage.
For a brief moment it felt as if the viewer had left Santa Monica for the African plains. “The show took me to the motherland of Africa,” visitor Tom Chino Nguyen said. “It was an inspiration for my soul.”
After the last song, Diawara left the stage as the audience continued dancing. It was a moment all who were in attendance might not easily forget.