„Black rhythms, colorful clothes. The audience at the Obere Mühle found itself surprised by unusual sounds from traditional West African instruments and the powerful voice of an expressive singer.
Just how close traditional music of the black continent is to modern styles of dance music, has impressivly been proven this evening.
The four black musicians entered the stage in colorful, typically African clothes. Especially the greenish boubou of the singer Fatoumata Dembélé was a true sight because of its wide cut and its imagery.
>My songs deal with mankind‘s fight for survival in times of war or famine<, anounced Fatoumata Dembélé in her pleasant French with African accent after one of her first few songs. (...) The African singer‘s lyrics were in the language of her native country Burkina Faso, only a couple of songs had French words.“
„Builder of bridges between continents. Last Thursday Fatoumata Dembélé and her group from Burkina Faso presented African music and dance at the Obere Mühle.
No later than upon entering the venue everybody realized that the concert of Fatoumata Dembélé and her group would be a highlight of a special kind. On stage there was an array of exotic instruments (...) The artists looked no less varied when they entered the stage in their traditional clothes.
>... I am a griot, I inherited this profession from my parents<, she closed her explanations.
This can especially be seen in her songs. As a modern griot she nowadays functions as a builder of bridges beween continents. Above all the African singer (...) would like to teach her audience about Africa.
She sings about everyday life and love. >I hope we have somebody among us who is in love<, she anounced one song. >Love is important in this world.<
But she also sings about war and peace - famines, droughts and shortage of medication. Her songs are most often sung in Dioula, one of the many languages of Burkina Faso. Now and again she also has a French passage. This is the language in which she usually makes her anouncements.
Her songs are sometimes calm, gentle and contemplative, sometimes loud and full of life. Some spectators at the Obere Mühle moved their heads to the music, others got to their feet and danced to the African rhythms. Dembélé herself again and again took her calabasse, a sort of shaker, and danced to the pleasure of the audience. Some of us were certain to have difficulties to find themselves in rainy Switzerland after the concert.“
„Fatoumata Dembélé all over the place. Her pasison for art makes her a star who can be found in groups which develop modern African music without neglecting the traditional instruments. She is a female voice who brings an original colour to several music groups (...)“
„Recorded at their hometown Bobo-Dioulasso the musicians show themselves from a new side. It‘s not the exclusively percussive music which dominates the CD, but other instruments have been added. Now, there are the singing of griot Fatoumata Dembélé, kora, flute, electric guitar and even a trompet mixed into the music (...) This sounds agreeably fresh and shows the ensemble as a creative renovator of authentic balafon music.“
„(...) The voice of the young griot Fatoumata Dembélé which illuminates „Kanou“, Farafina‘s latest CD published in 2001 by L‘Emprinte digitale, rejuvenates the group. The music wins a new freshness, acquiring a female delicacy which has never blossomed among this group of solid percussionists and flashy dancers.“
„Farafina has found a new direction thanks to a new voice... the voice of Fatoumata Dembélé. A beautiful voice of a griot, formed and trained at traditional ceremonies (babtisms, weddings...) and other celebrations which need the presence of a person of her caste. This album distances itself somewhat from the roughness but also from the percussive vitality and the male voices which marked the sound of Farafina throughout an important first half of the 90ies.(...)“
„(...) the group Farafina belongs among the most famous and oldest groups from West Africa. Inspired by dances and traditional songs of griots, the compositions, sung by the fantastic Fatoumata Dembélé, who recently joined the group, give an impressive proof of its vitality, its eternal youth and its modernity.(...)“
„One of the most successful traditional groups from West Africa is from Burkina Faso: Farafina. Their latest album „Kanou“ was recorded at the group‘s hometown. (...) The new female singer of the band, the griot Fatoumata Dembélé has a voice which gets under your skin. She adds some fresh colours to the music of Farafina and will certainly draw some new fans for the band.“