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Ten Somali Artists & Entertainers To Watch In 2015

We list ten Somali artists from the literature, art, film & music worlds to keep an eye out in the coming year.


Photograph by Bahareh Hosseini.

Somali growth, innovation and artistry is, for the most part, only championed by other Somalis, which is why hashtags like #SomaliDiversity and #EastAfricanFeminism have gained a lot of traction in the last few months. Whether or not it’s publicized, Somalis outside of Somalia are a diaspora to be reckoned with: they’re artists, thought leaders, entertainers and writers; they’re a generation of people— from the United States to England— defying convention and representing Somalis in positive and meaningful ways. While their last names may be similar, these Somalis are only loosely connected. They represent hope, resilience and prosperity. They’re continuing the legacy of diasporic greatness in the arts and entertainment, a legacy that counts Nuruddin Farah, Iman, K’naan and Kinsi Abdulleh among its ranks. Browse through them in the following pages.

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Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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