Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 1998

Maryam Mursal

Mursal began singing as a teenager in Mogadishu in 1966, one of the first female singers to perform professionally within a deeply male-dominated Islamic society. A powerful, dynamic singer, her musical style is steeped in the traditional music of her country with a remarkable hybrid sound of African and Arabic influences, originally created by centuries of cross-cultural fertilization between migrating nomadic tribes. Before her stunning voice could be heard in the West, Maryam was forced to spend seven months walking across the Horn of Africa with her five children as she fled the civil war in her native Somalia, desperate to escape the anarchy, death, and starvation that was destroying her country. She and her young family hitched rides on trucks, rode on donkeys and walked--out of Mogadishu, the Somalian capital. During her exodus she walked across Kenya, through Ethiopia, recrossing Somalia again and eventually arriving in Djibouti where she was finally given asylum by the Danish embassy. Maryam will be releasing her debut solo album The Journey on Peter Gabriel's Real World label.

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