Fatoumata Diawara is poised to become one of Africa’s most significant international stars in decades. Born to Malian parents in Côte d’Ivoire, Diawara became a well-known child actor back in Mali. At the age of nineteen, she decamped to France, pursuing a career with a street-theater company that, in turn, led her to pick up a guitar and explore the sounds of her homeland. Before long, she was collaborating with Malian diva Oumou Sangaré, jazz legend Herbie Hancock, and Blur cofounder Damon Albarn, and she had signed with World Circuit. Diawara’s 2012 debut, Fatou, was a simmering folksong beauty, updating Mali’s Wassoulou tradition with a sheen of R&B in which her conversational alto wrapped like smoke around serpentine guitars and driving polyrhythms. Her 2018 follow-up, Nterini, strides toward African pop music, with bold beats and sophisticated arrangements. In March 2018, Duke Performances brought some of the most musically fabled regions of the world to Durham with Black Atlantic, a weeklong festival in downtown Durham celebrating the music of Africa and the African diaspora. Musicians from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Venezuela, Mali, the Garifuna people of Honduras, and Spain took the stage at Motorco and the Carolina Theatre. “These six concerts,” wrote Duke professor Laurent Dubois, “remind us of common routes, of the ways Black Atlantic music has helped turn exile and exclusion into grounding and connection.” This season, Black Atlantic returns to Motorco (and adds one concert at Baldwin Auditorium) in search of more cultural connections and imaginative hybrids, with artists from South Africa, Congo, Uganda, Mali/Ivory Coast/France, Mauritania, Cuba, Niger, New York, and Brazil.