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Maryam Mursal

somalia african World Music africa world

Maryam Mursal (born 1st January 1950) is a prominent composer and vocalist from Somalia. She grew up in a family with four daughters. Up to the sixties performing music publicly was reserved mainly for men; but Maryam Mursal was determined not to let her gender hold her back form reaching her goals. Confronting this centuries-old tradition she became, in 1966, one of the few professional female vocalists in her country. She performed in nightclubs and her music, known as Somali Jazz, became subsequently popular across the country. Her lively blend is influenced by jazz, blues, soul, African and Arabic music. She performed solo and with Waaberi, a large music and dance troupe associated with the Somali National Theatre, with which she released the CD New Dawn .

After criticizing the dictatorial regime, she was banned from singing for two years. She then started earning her living as, arguably, the first female taxi and truck driver in Somalia. During the civil war in her homeland, she and her five children undertook an arduous seven-month journey across four countries on foot and by hitchhiking until they finally found refuge in the Danish Embassy in the neighbouring Djibouti. It was this odyssey through the East African desert that provided the germ of her solo recording The Journey. The back-up vocals in this CD are provided by Peter Gabriel, whose label "Real World" produces her work. She also performed with Nina Simone .

While in Somalia, Maryam Mursal released many records. Due to the civil war, she resides now in Europe and tours extensively with Waaberi.

External links:
Article by the BBC on Maryan Mursal's performance at Live 8's Africa Calling
Cutting through it all: An nterview with Mursal Mursal


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