Fatou

If the gorgeous Fatoumata Diawara (28) grew up in a different country and a different time she would’ve been a punk or at least a rocker, because she has reason to be pissed off. She is a highly talented actress and dancer, but her conservative family back in Mali seems to have attempted to erect every possible obstacle to prevent her from succeeding, going as far as trying to block her from going to France to pursue her artistic dreams. Fortunately there have been people like celebrated Malian musician, Cheikh Tidiane Seck, and her friend Rokia Traore who also inspired Diawara to take up the guitar. “To me it was a wonderful and daring thing: a Malian girl with an acoustic guitar,” Fatoumata said. “Why should the guitar be only for men?” Her mainly acoustic debut, Fatou, is one of the finest African releases of the past decade: reassuring, beautiful, unique.