When singer Alsarah left her native Sudan, she was just a child who'd shown an interest in music. She's said it served as her coping mechanism during a subsequent transition to life here in the U.S. That passion led her to a university degree in ethnomusicology.
It also drew her to musicians who were passionate about the intersection of culture, music and migration. Together, their one-of-a-kind expression has been called "East African retro pop." But that tag only scratches the surface: In their hands, the music pulses, breathes and comes alive with a mix of tradition and contemporary influences.
Alsarah and her band The Nubatones mesmerize and enchant in this performance behind Bob Boilen's Desk. They undoubtedly opened new worlds for more than a few who saw the performance live, so it's a pleasure to share it with the world.
Manara is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon) (Spotify) (Google Play)
- "Ya Watan"
- "3roos Elneel"
Alsarah (vocals); Nahid (backing vocals); Rami El Aasser (percussion, backing vocals); Mawuena Kodjovi (bass, backing vocals); Brandon Terzic (oud).
Producers: Felix Contreras, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Nicole Boliaux; Production Assistant: Jenny Gathright; Photo: Raquel Zaldivar/NPR.
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