MusicThe Arts

Meet Alsarah, the Sudanese Singer Taking Over the USA

One of the Middle East’s most prominent Indie artists and an angel of a voice, AlSarah crafts new genres as her voice blends with Nubian beats and takes on a life of its own. In an interview with BarakaBits, the songwriter and ethnomusicologist shares a glimpse of her career and delights us with her powerful voice.

How would you describe Nubian music? What makes it different from East African or Sudanese music? 

I don’t think of Nubian music as different from East-African or Sudanese music, but rather as a part of the larger circles of East-Africa and Sudan. Some of its trademark features is the presence of the frame drum, and the unique 7 rhythms in conjunction with the pentatonic scales.

How would you describe the music scene in Sudan now and where would you like to see it going? 

The music scene in Sudan is in a scary place. There is a lack of venues, promoters, and it’s nearly impossible to get a permit to do an open air concert in Khartoum with very little infrastructure outside of the capital for any type of professional concerts. This leads to promoters not willing to take risks on any act that doesn’t follow the status quo. However there is a new scene growing in Port Sudan which is very promising and its opening a lot of doors.

You are now based in Brooklyn. What was the biggest challenge of performing in the US?

Honestly I find that the challenges of performing in the US are not very different than the challenges of performing anywhere else. Issues like lack of venues, lack of support from promoters and how do you distinguish yourself from the rest of the musicians all vying for the same thing.

What would you like to see happening in 2015?

I would love to see growth for both my career and the region. A multi-dimensional growth that is centered on celebrating our diversity in the region, and finding unity between us through this celebration. The prolific writer Octavia Butler once said “God is Change”. These are words I think we can all live by.

The following song, Habibi Taal, is the second official video of Alsarah and the Nubatones‘ debut album “Silt”, and was  dedicated to Egypt and its people.

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Valentina Primo

Journalist, globetrotter, and determined idealist. Since Valentina left her home country of Argentina, she has searched for ways to build bridges between cultures and foster dialogue. Her previous work in international organizations in Italy and Germany fed her passion for the world of development, while her 8-year journalistic experience in Argentina and Egypt increased her curiosity for everything that challenges the stereotype. She holds a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Peace Studies with a specialization in Human Rights.

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