Review: “Smile at your problems!”

24. April 2014
Ami Kucharek

Just by the first glance at Fatoumata Diawara, also called Fatou, you feel the exotic heat that she radiates. 

Dressed in a traditional green African print dress and wearing a bright green turban, Diawara definitely is the most eye-catching person in Marina Pavillion.

As her rough yet soft voice fills the crowded pavilion for the first time, she puts the audience under her spell. Jean Alain Hohy‘s smooth bass sounds underline the fine rhythm of Ekoue Jean Baptiste Gbadoe’s catchy drums that make the audience move. At the beginning of the concert, Diawara is more reluctant but you already get the feeling that this African power woman has much to offer.

Directly after finishing her songs, she starts telling about the meaning of the following tunes. The beauty to be different and how all people, not depending on their skin colour, have red blood which unites them being flowers of God. 

Although her songs make everyone smile, her message is clear as she is talking about war children, peace in Africa and oppressed women. Diawara’s performance feels like a cold and hot shower, combing the disaster with the amazing. She is using contrasts as a tool not only concerning her music. Although being the only female band member, she has perfect control over the band’s music. As Gregory Emonet is playing thrilling solos on his guitar, the touch of rock music is undeniable. 

After a few songs, the barefooted Diawara puts her guitar aside and tells the crowd to clap their hands, stand up and dance. By now playing excitingly energetic songs, reminding more of African ethno rock than jazz, Diawara starts jumping and spinning around, revealing her hair by letting her turban fly across the stage.

The music gets louder, more focusing on the instruments than the vocals but always emphasising her singing. As the audience is enchanted by Diawara and her amazing band, she announces the last song. After two hours which felt like an awakening, Fatoumata and her band leave the stage, just for a few moments, to return and play one more song: “This last song is not on the album. It is only for you, thanks for the amazing concert!”


Fatoumata Diawara 

April 23 at the Marina Pavilion 


Fatoumata DIAWARA (vocals, guitar)

Jean Alain HOHY (bass)

Ekoue Jean Baptiste GBADOE (drums)

Gregory EMONET (guitar)