Sudanese singer Alsarah has been dubbed as the princess of Nubian pop and calls herself a self-claimed practitioner of Sudanese retro-pop. Born in Sudan and raised in the US, the singer / songwriter with a degree in ethnomusicology has been making waves over the past few years with her beautifully haunting voice and 21st century interpretations of North and East African music.
Alsarah and her family moved to the US when she was just 12 years, escaping increasing limits on freedom in her native Sudan and then civil war in Yeman. Her music represents a homage to her musical roots, revisiting the traditional Nubian music of Southern Sudan and Northern Egypt. She first became known globally for her participation in the ‘Nile Project‘, a collaboration between musicians from the Nile Basin that combined music and education to explore the region’s cultural and environmental challenges.
Then last year, in a rather unexpected move, she broke out of the ‘world music’ pigeon hole, collaborating with French electronic producer Débruit to release a critically acclaimed album on British label Soundway Records fusing experimental electronica with her haunting Sudanese vocals.
Alsarah has also combined her music with politics and human rights, releasing a song encouraging Sudanese people to vote ahead of the 2010 landmark elections and being a member of WISE Muslim Women, an organisation working to give a voice to Muslim women. She also took part in the first music festival in Somalia for almost 20 years.
I actually see these endeavors as part of my music. I sing about migration, voluntary and forced, I sing about people the world likes to ignore except when speaking of them in the past, and I sing about what it means to yearn for home. I also sing about survival and love and joy, which is how people continue despite policies that change the course of their existence.