Two stars of African music, one veteran and one newcomer, Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi and Fatoumata Diawara respectively, come to Cal Performances for a double-bill concert in Zellerbach Hall on Saturday, March 30 at 8:00 p.m. With nearly 60 albums to his name, Mtukudzi is considered one of Zimbabwe’s—and Africa’s— greatest musical treasures. Inspired by the rhythms of the mbira (thumb piano), he incorporates South African mbaqanga, the energetic Zimbabwean pop style jit, and the traditional kateke drumming of his clan. Diawara, from West Africa’s Mali, is a break out artist on the world stage garnering global attention. “The most beguiling talent to hit the world music scene in some time” (Daily Telegraph, London). She has collaborated with John Paul Jones, Herbie Hancock, Oumou Sangaré and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Her debut album Fatou was released August 2012 in the United States. Her songs are laced with socially conscious lyrics because as Diawara has noted in her concerts, her country is being torn apart by a new civil war. Both artists will appear with their own band and programs will be announced from the stage.
Born in Zimbabwe in 1952, Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi is one of the most prolific recording artists working in Africa today. Though primarily performing on acoustic guitar, Tuku’s sound has gone from modern electric to traditional African acoustic. After losing his brother Robert to AIDS-related illness, Tuku has committed himself to raising awareness of HIV/AIDS amongst the African youth. He is also the founder of the Pakare Paye Arts Centre, near Harare, Zimbabwe, a facility dedicated to the artistic education of children. He is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Eastern and Southern Africa, with a focus on Young People’s Development and HIV/AIDS Prevention.
Born to Malian parents in Côte d’Ivoire in 1982, Fatoumata Diawara began her artistic career as a dancer in her father’s dance troupe until the age of 12, when she was sent to live with her aunt in Bamako, Mali. Being an actress, Diawara’s aunt encouraged her to take up acting, and at age 18, Diawara travelled to Paris to play the title role in Antigone. After touring Europe with this production, she returned to Mali and starred in the film Sia, Dream of the Python (2001, Dani Kouyaté). Thanks to the film’s popularity throughout West Africa, Diawara became an overnight sensation. The following year, after being approached by Jean-Luc Courcoult, director of Royale de Luxe theater company in Nantes, Diawara ran away from home (as an unmarried woman, she was considered a minor) to pursue an acting career in France. While touring with the company, Courcoult overheard her singing backstage and asked her to sing for the audience on tour. This led to engagements in Parisian nightclubs, and world tours with Oumou Sangaré and Dee Dee Bridgewater.
Tickets for Afropop Spectacular on March 30 at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall range from $22.00 to $46.00, and are subject to change. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at www.calperformances.org; and at the door. Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. UC faculty and staff, senior citizens, other students and UC Alumni Association members receive a $5.00 discount (Special Events excluded). For select performances, Cal Performances offers UCB student, faculty and staff, senior, and community rush tickets. For more information about discounts, go to http://calperformances.org/buy/discounts.php or call (510) 642-9988.