(how punny am i?? sorry i just couldn’t resist)
Did you hear the news? NPR has named “Aswan” amongst the top 5 world music albums. Check out the story here!
So a few months back, Andreas contacts me from the blog Addis Rumble to ask me some questions about my friend Kombo from AfroSimba and our experience in Somalia together. After, he requests an interview with me and asked some questions, so I gave him some answers, and then voila he puts together this wonderful little piece. I’ve been dubbed ‘the new princess of Nubian Pop’ people so if I start acting crazy when you see me on the street its probably my royal disposition feeling disgruntled because I slept on a pea
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Sudanese singer Alsarah wears many hats– songwriter,ethnomusicologist,activist and all round world citizen. She started her musical training at the age of 12 in Khartoum.She says that her sound is influenced by her life in Sudan,Yemen and the US where she moved as a teenager in the 90′s.
Alsarah speaks passionately about the situation in Sudan ahead of a historical referendum that could separate the north from the south. “We are going to lose of big part of our people and culture” She says. Currently resident in Manhattan,Alsarah performs to audiences from around the world. Her performances are eclectic, electrifying, eccentric–a combination of genres–hip hop,African soul and gnawa dropping coy manifestos and clever metaphors about socio-political issues like elections,human rights etc. A few weeks ago she joined activists at the UN headquarters to bring attention to Sudan. I reached her in New York — a melting pot of cultures–where her unique sense of self has shaped her world view and in essence her music.
Alsarah and a song for Sudan
Alsarah, a Sudanese born singer, songwriter and ethnomusicologist, reworked a song about voting in Sudan, and has given us an interview on the motivation for this interpretation.
Born in the capital city of Khartoum where she spent the first 8 years of her life, Alsarah relocated to Taez, Yemen with her family and then abruptly moved to the US in 1994 when a brief civil war broke out in Yemen. Now residing in Brooklyn, NY, she performs music from different parts of the Middle East, and East Africa. Heavily influenced by different styles of music from her native home to her adopted one she is putting together an album of original material to be released later this year. Find out more at http://www.myspace.com/soulsudani . Photo credit: www.carlosnycphoto.com . The song was written in 1985 by a collective of artists named the Democratic Creators Alliance. Alsarah co-produced the remix for this song with Oddisee.
Alsarah is a Brooklyn based singer, songwriter and Giant Step team member hailing from Khartoum, Sudan. She loves to travel, does not like long walks on the beach, and prefers kimchi to cake.
Alsarah shares her experience:
Today I go to vote for the first time as a Sudanese citizen. Three weeks ago I could not contain my excitement about this momentous occasion, but today I sadly know it won’t count for anything. Despite the reports flooding in about rampant cheating in the electoral process, not to mention the recent withdrawal of the majority of other presidential candidates, I like to tell myself at least I am getting some practice in on my right for self determination.
This being the first election since 1985, it has been getting a lot international attention, and a lot of media is being produced on the country in general. Among the international organizations focusing on the topic is Media in Cooperation and Transition, aka MICT, in association with the German Foreign Office, who have been running an online campaigncovering the elections in general, and released a compilation of songs by Sudanese singers and song writers, of which I was one, relating to the elections titled Sudan Votes Music Hopes. I was in Berlin for the SVMH release party when I received the news that most of the candidates running for the elections had withdrawn from the race a mere few days before people were due to go to the ballots.
While deeply dejected, I feel that at least now so many of the people of Sudan had made it clear they seek a democratic change, and that gives me hope to look forward to the possibility of a fair elections in the not so distant future.
Alsarah explains how her song, “Vote,” came to be: Alsarah Video Interview
With a lilting, crystalline voice that enchants, jarring lyrics and captivating rhythms of her native East Africa, Sudanese-American singer Alsarah returns to Alwan in the debut of The Nubatones in a project covering original material written by Alsarah, followed by Swahili songs of Zanzibar and Kenya with the return of The Sounds of Taraab.
Inspired by the pentatonic scale and western soul music, and struck by a collective love for Nubian music, Alsarah and the Nubatones revisit Nubian songs of return, as well as popular songs from northern Sudan and southern Egypt, from the 1970s until today. While linguistically there has been a rapid arabization of that region, its retention of its musical culture has been steadfast.
The Sounds of Taraab endeavor to familiarize audiences with the exciting and profound music amd dance from Africa’s Eastern coast. A little over 100 years ago, the Sultan of Zanzibar sent his court musicians abroad to study…They returned, and taraab ws born. This genre, found in the towns of coastal Eastern Africa, is a hybrid of Arabic, Indian, and African styles, with the poignant songs of love and longing sung in the melodious language of Kiswahili. Zanzibar style taraab is basically Egyptian song and modal practice, and the predilection for Arabic instruments. Mombasa style known for its highly syncopated rythmn, with accordion, oud and violin backed up by guitar and modern drum kit. The songs of Dar Es Salaam that may be right out of an Indian movie, and tablas are the popular form of percussion there in that cosmopolitan city. In addition, you may hear varied instruments from anywhere, such as Japanese biwa or Latin American bongos, demonstrating the ecclectic nature of this music.http://www.myspace.com/soundsoftaraab
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