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Kanou [EP]

Kanou [EP] cover art

Track Listing

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4Clandestin (live)4:16
5Video: Bissa

News & Reviews

  • Fatoumata Diawara Launches North American Winter Tour

    Fatoumata Diawara returns to North America for a month-long winter tour of Canada and the US. This leg opens with a six-city tour through Canada, starting in Alberta tonight, followed by stops in Ontario and Quebec. The US run begins February 7 with shows in Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Vermont, and California. Diawara will be joined by fellow Malian musician Bassekou Kouyaté for several shows. She returns to the States to perform at the Savannah Music Festival in April on a double bill with Bombino.

  • Savannah Music Festival 2014 to Feature Punch Brothers, Chris Thile, Fatoumata Diawara, Bombino

    The Savannah Music Festival has announced the line-up for its 25th anniversary season, to be held March 20–April 5, 2014, and among the artists scheduled to perform are several familiar to readers of the Nonesuch Journal: Punch Brothers; Chris Thile, in a duo concert with fellow mandolinist Mike Marshall; and Fatoumata Diawara and Bombino sharing a double bill for two shows.

About this Album

Fatoumata Diawara makes her North American recording debut with the September 27, 2011, release of the digital EP Kanou on World Circuit/Nonesuch Records. Inspired by Wassoulou tradition, jazz, and blues, Diawara has created her own unique contemporary folk sound, giving a distinctly African spin to the concept of the female singer-songwriter. "Like her mentor [Oumou] Sangaré," says the Financial Times, "Diawara combines feminist social conscience with effortless melodic charm." The Daily Telegraph calls her "the most beguiling talent to hit the world music scene in some time." The Kanou digital EP includes four tracks plus the video for the song "Bissa."

Fatoumata Diawara, a sometime star of African film, draws elements of jazz and funk into a sparse contemporary folk sound—refracting the rocking rhythms and plaintive melodies of her ancestral Wassoulou tradition through an instinctive pop sensibility. At the center of the music is Diawara's warm, affecting voice; spare, rhythmical guitar playing; and gorgeously melodic songs that draw powerfully on her own often troubled experience. 

Born in Côte d’Ivoire, raised in Mali, now based in Paris, and still only 29, Diawara has had a life covering a whole gamut of contemporary African experience: fighting parental opposition to her artistic ambitions and the cultural prejudice faced by women throughout Africa, winning success as an actress in film and theater, before finding her feet in the medium she was always destined to make her own: music.

"Kanou," the opener, typifies the EP's minimal, yet sensual feel, Fatou’s yearning vocal and hypnotic picking—transposed from Wassoulou harp patterns—offset by muted Rhodes piano. "Bissa" underscores wry comment on a woman’s right to choose her marriage partner with a pared back funk grove. For complete lyrics in Bambara, English, and French, click here.

Damon Albarn, Toumani Diabaté, Herbie Hancock, and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones are just a few of the major players who have fallen for Diawara's effortless musical charm, as her presence has lit up shows by Africa Express, AfroCubism, and Hancock’s "Imagine" project. Yet her debut is almost entirely her own work: self-composed and arranged, with her own backing vocals and percussion. It breathes with the natural warmth, confidence, and spontaneity that are the essence of Diawara herself.


Fatoumata Diawara, vocals (1-4), guitar (1-3), calabash (1), shaker (1), percussion (3)
Ousmane Keita, kamel ngoni (1)
Boris Persikov, keyboards (1)
Alioune Wade, bass (1)
Abdoulaye Traore, guitar (3)
Moh Kouyate, guitars (4)
Papus, bass (2, 4)
Thibaut Brandalise, drums (4)
Thomas Grommaire, guitar (2)
Sola Akingbola, drums/congas (2)


Produced by Nick Gold & Fatoumata Diawara


This EP is available from Nonesuch in the United States and Canada only.

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