looking fwd, and back: 2013 recap

I am happy and grateful to say that 2013 has been the most exciting of my career so far. I travelled to places I never thought I would visit, I met inspiring musicians from so many parts of the world and made some beautiful projects along the way. I kicked off the year in Aswan, Egypt with The Nile Project in a 2 week residency bringing more than 17 musicians together from different parts of the Nile basin, followed by 2 weeks of performances around Egypt. Needless to say, it was one of the most enriching musical experiences for me and at the end of it we released a live recording from our first concert, titled appropriately after the city it all happened in, Aswan. The album went on to be named in the top 5 must-hear International albums of 2013 by NPR’s Anastasia Tisoulcas:”… the results are joyous and even raucous.

Shortly after, I travelled to Mogadishu, Somalia for the first music festival since the conflict began in the 1990s and music was officially banned in 2009. Called the Somalia Sunrise Concert Tour this open air festival fronted by the legendary somali hiphop group Waayaha Cusub and produced by Humanitarian Bazaar brought together an alliance of musicians from different parts of the world dubbed the Frontline Music Alliance. Here are some highlights:

Then I followed up with my new found friends that I met in Somalia and did a few shows in Nairobi with the band AfroSimba and Synergy Music Production (Kenya) founder Jamir Adiong, at the Blankets & Wine music series and Tree House Club

I returned home after all that travel and began finalizing the details for the release of my project Aljwal with french producer Débruit, released on 11/11 (my absolute favorite day of the year).This went on to be named one of the top ten favorite world music albums by NPR: “One of my very favorite finds this year…The album is compulsively listenable — and much of it is eminently danceable, like this track, “Sharara” (Spark).

video by Rainbowmonkey.

Wrapping up the year was the second annual secret music salon celebrating the iconic lebanese singer Fairouz‘s birthday. This year held at the Freebrook Mansion, the night featured the music of Omnia Hegazy, DJ Ushka, and The Fairouz Tribute band (Haig Manoukian, Rami El Aasser, Marandi Hostetter, Shelley Thomas, David Buchbut, Bridget Robins, Marissa Arciola, Brian Prunka, and yours truly Alsarah) ….here are some photos:

And to make matters more euphoric, 2014 is gearing up to be no less exciting than the last one. The Nubatones is due to release our first album in March of this year on the nyc based label Wonderwheel Records (but don’t tell anyone I told you that yet); there is another Nile Project tour due to take place over the next two months and I have been making bi-costal cyber musiking with LA based producer Captain Planet. More on that to come soon.


“Aljwal” selected in top ten world music albums of 2013 by NPR

Thank you so much to Anastasia Tsioulcas over at NPR for the top ten shout out!

11/21/13 – The Secret Music Salon Presents: FAIROUZ


After last year’s secret music salon, I was so overjoyed with the beauty of the community that showed, and felt that wonderful feeling of connections building. That feeling is exactly why I became an artist. And so I vowed (to myself) that I will continue this endeavor every year in an attempt to both challenge myself creatively and to help in the feeding of my community artistically.

Fairouz has been a huge influence on my musical upbringing as well as being a part of everyone’s sonic memory and life’s soundtrack in the middle-east and north-africa whether directly or indirectly. She is the most recorded arabic female singer of all time after all. However, whenever I have attended tribute shows here in the US (because that’s where I usually see them) the conversation usually revolves around the creative prowess of the Rahbanni Brothers, and later on her son as well, who wrote the majority of her music. All very good I say, they are creative masterminds. But this year, on the eve of Fairouz’s actual birthday, I would like to celebrate the power of the woman in front of the music. Because as brilliant as the Rahbannis were/are as a family, their music would’ve never reached any of us if not carried on the vocal waves of one of the most versatile and influential arabic singers of all time.

Say What! Yes indeed, it is what you are thinking, a tribute band!!! So my dear friends I would be honored if you can join me yet again for another secret music salon (except not so secret anymore) featuring music by: Omnia Hegazy, DJ Ushka, and the Fairouz Tribute Band (yeah we just made up that name). The Tribute band is basically comprised of the Nubatones (Haig, Rami and myself) + Marandi Hostetter on violin, Bridget Robins on Nai, Marissa Arciola on Bass, David Buchbut on percussion, and Shelley Thomas on additional vocals.

Where is all this goodness happening you ask me? Well, this year we are moving to a new location (goodbye secret loft) the beautiful Freebrook Mansion located in the heart of Bedstuy. This historic building is a community space located at 375 Stuyvesant Ave, Brooklyn NY decked out with spiraling stairs and chandeliers from the 1900s.

When is all this goodness happening? On Fairouz’s birthday of course! Thursday Nov 21, 2013 (no we won’t tell you how old she is).

So tell your friends, and come ready to make new friends. Libations will flow (cash bar on premises), music will lapp against your ears, and dancing will ensue afterwards to the sonic globe trotting of DJ Ushka. We are about to have another old fashioned salon good people!! A community space where we meet, greet, and share in the wealth of beauty that is all around us. Tickets are on sale now for the lovely low price of $10! Or you can buy them at the door for the equally reasonable, if not as low, price of $15.

11/11 make a wish: Débruit & Alsarah – aljawal الجوال

Hello again friends!

Remember how I said yesterday I was cooking something up for you and will tell you all about it? well now you know I keep my promises. A few years ago I met Débruit and we wrote a song together, inspired by Sudan, but a child of our global experience. Today that one song has turned into a full album called “aljawal الجوال” and will be released on November 11, 2013 on Soundway. Please keep an eye out for it, and BUY IT when it comes out, so that lil ol’ me can make another album for you guys.


Addis Rumble shows me some love

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 ;)

For Full Article Click Here 

Sat 9/21/13 – because MAHICANITUCK never stands still!

Hello friends,

Its been a while since I’ve reached out to you guys, and for that I apologize, but it’s because I’ve have been busy this summer creating a stash of goodies for the winter (more to come on that soon). In the meantime some new, and already good, friends of mine have reached out to me about bringing the Nubatones up to Mahicanituck, aka Croton on the Hudson river, this Saturday 9/21 to celebrate the Fall equinox. There will be food, there will be music and there will be log cabins!! (yeah the city girl in me got all excited about the log cabin part i’m not going to lie). This is a full weekend gathering for family and friends. You can purchase tickets for the full weekend which includes food and lodging, or you can purchase single day tickets, or you can just come for the afternoon. Its only a 45min train ride on the MetroNorth or you can drive up there. In all cases come ready to have a beautiful time, breathe some fresh air and roll around in the grass with your kids.

More Info    ||    Purchase Tickets  

ps. Mahicanituck is the original name for the Hudson river given to it by the people of the first nation. It means water that never stands still.



June 6, 2013: Nairobi Live @ Tree House – Kenya


Omg omg omg, nairobi why are you so damn sexy? Yesterday at Blankets & Wine it was like the who’s who in the Nairobi fashionista world, being serenaded by the some of Africa’s finest talents (Dela killed it on stage with her energy and her dancers, a must see if you are ever near her). So many beautiful people, and so much fun in the sun.

If you missed the show, then don’t be sad, in fact be glad! You can come check out my show this Thursday, June 6th for a very special installment of the series “Nairobi Live” at Tree House dubbed Afro-Asia night. I will be performing along side Jahm (synergy productions) and my friend Kombo of AfroSimba band. Its going to be intimate, sexy, sweaty, and best of all, FREE so come out come out.


June 2, 2013: Blankets and Wine XLIV

Greetings from the beautiful city that is Nairobi. Over the past few months my travels have taken me around east-africa working on many exciting projects, from Mogadishu to Juba, and I have been lucky enough to have met some really wonderful musicians as a result. Among these friends are AfroSimba, and Jamir Adiong of SMP Kenya. We connected, laughed and made music together. AfroSimba even made a home for me in their band while I lamented missing my own bandmates, the Nubatones, back in NYC. And so now, we are going to present the music of the Nubatones on a Nairobi stage for the first time ever at the 44th edition of Blankets and Wine, along side Zahara (South Africa), Dela (Kenya), and Prisca Ojwang (Kenya).

Make sure you come to the show if you are in Nairobi, or tell a friend if you are not, and keep an eye out for other secret shows that just might pop up in the next few weeks.

What: Blankets and Wine XLIV
When: Sunday, June 2, 2013
Where: Carnivore Gardens
                Nairobi, Kenya


that time in Aswan…

I don’t know if you guys remember or not but this past January, 2013, I along with 18 other musicians from different countries along the Nile basin joined in a wonderful new project called The Nile Project aimed at redefining our understanding of the Nile river and its culture. Needless to say it was a truly inspiring experience. We gathered, we learned, we were forever changed.

Below is a recording from our first live concert in Aswan, Egypt. Please enjoy it, then support the continuation of this project by buying the album



RIP Bi Kidude

Yesterday, Zanzibari singer Bi Kidude died at the age of 102. A truly untameable spirit, she was a true inspiration for me as an artist, as a woman, and as a human. Amongst the first women to sing publicly in Zanzibar, she lived her life as an independent musician at a time when not even many men would dare. She ran away from home at the age of 10 and lived a life on her own terms ever since.

Musically she is perhaps best known for her work in the ceremonial women’s music of Unyago, but she crossed over from traditional women’s music to the boys club of classical Taraab music and back again demanding respect from both old and young alike based on the power of her talents and force of spirit. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about her life, I just wanted to share a little bit of her sound with you all so we can take a moment and remember the spirit of a great artist.

You can read more about her life here, and if you find you want more here is a lovely playlist i found on youtube of some of her songs.

(don’t miss what she has to say about the role of the singer in taraab music at 3:32 marker)

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