Photo by C Brandon/Redferns

Listen to Fatoumata Diawara's New Single 'Nsera' Featuring Damon Albarn

The celebrated Malian artist will release a fuller body of work in the Spring of 2023.

Renowned Grammy-nominated Malian singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actress Fatoumata Diawara just debuted a single called "Nsera" featuring Damon Albarn (Gorillaz/Blur). The single was released along with a vibrant Gregory Ohrel-directed video.Diawara and Albarn have collaborated in the past on Albarn's Rocket Juice & The Moon.

"Nsera" is a record from Diawara's upcoming album, which will be released in the Spring of 2023. While discussing the record, Diawara stated that "Nsera" means "destination" in Bambara, the indigenous language of her home country, Mali. Diawara mentions that the mantra behind the song is "human relationships, hospitality, and generosity."

"Nsera" was jointly co-written and co-produced by Diawara with Albarn. Albarn sings and plays keyboards on the track in a way that adds serenity and melancholy to the song's ambiance.

Diawara officially released her debut album Fatou in 2011, which featured guest performances from legendary musicians John Paul Jones, Tony Allen, and Toumani Diabaté. Before her music debut, she had created a career for herself in theater and film but later delved into music.

Diawara has crafted a vibrant career for herself so far, with songs that carry significant messages and rhythm. For example, one of her albums, Fenfo, was intricately curated from sessions in Barcelona, Burkina Faso, Bamako, Paris, and Minneapolis while she was touring. Over the years, the Malian singer has become renowned for her refreshing energy on stage and her ability to breathe new life into songs during her performances.

Ten years ago, on September 2012, Diawara was part of a campaign called "30 Songs / 30 Days," an initiative that was started to support Half the Sky, a multi-platform media project inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book.

During the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, she received two nominations for Best World Music Album. One nomination was for her renowned 2018 album Fenfo, and the other was for Best Dance Recording for "Ultimatum," which featured electronic music duo Disclosure.

Watch the riveting music video for Diawara's "Nsera" below.

Photo: Jackie Lee Young

Vieux Farka Touré On His Collaborative Album With Khruangbin

We talk to the Malian legend about Ali, his collaborative album alongside Texas' Khruangbin.

I ask illustrious Malian guitarist and songwriter, Vieux Farka Touré, if he has made the right decision in becoming a musician. His father, Grammy nominated legend Ali Farka Touré, was famously against it at first.

“He had a lot of problems with record companies in the 80s—I think this was the big issue for him” Touré tells me, “But yes, I’m a great driver—could have done that but we don’t choose music, it chooses us”.

We are communicating on the phone to talk about his new release, which follows not long after this years Les Racines record, where he finally got to step out of his father's shadow to cement himself as a true Malian great; utterly commanding tracks such as "Gabou Nie Tie."

A few months later, there is now the album Ali, an 8-song collaboration with the buzzing Texan trio Khruangbinformed by Mark Speer, Donald ‘DJ’ Johnson and Laura Lee. Theirs is a dubbed out but far more removed take on the desert sound.

“They have never been to Africa but it does not matter because music does not know any frontiers," Vieux mentions over the phone. As for what he thinks when I read him a YouTube comment where one fan exclaims ‘This is the African music we have been waiting for,’ The Malian laughs loudly. “That’s funny, but this is not an African record or an American record. It is a record that has been made by individuals." Ali is a project that was masterminded by Vieux Farka Touré’s manager and has had the required effect of carrying Touré’s voice further than ever before.

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