Country Zanzibar Genres taarab kidumbak band /Siti-Muharam-113397580390999 Festival Sauti za Busara 2021 Recordings Siti of Unguja, 2020
Almost a century ago, Zanzibari singer Siti Binti Saad reimagined what had been formal court music into a private form of improvisation, laced with a spirit of inclusivity that combined Arabic and Swahili lyrics. In doing so, she paved the way for other female taarab singers, including Bi Kidude.
In turn, Siti Muharam now animates the life and legacy of her legendary great grandmother. With support from The Vinyl Factory, Songlines, Pan African Music, British radio DJs Gilles Peterson and Tom Ravenscroft and ecstatic reviews from The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Wire and Mojo, Siti Muharam’s first music release ‘Siti of Unguja’ looks set to be rated among the Top African music albums of 2020.
The recordings are deeply personal, telling Siti Binti Saad’s story and her influence. As the album begins, with an instrumental version of ‘Machozi ya Huba’, the spell is set for a magical journey. Under the direction of Mohamed Issa Matona, songs pay homage to Siti Binti Saad’s innovations by bringing back the kidumbak percussive elements that she originated so many years ago on the streets of Unguja Island (Zanzibar).
As Matona explains, one generation inspires the next: “For Siti of Unguja, we found the original feeling, the melodies, the ways she innovated and connected taarab to the people. The past has helped us find a future sound where a new generation can go with the groove whilst carrying the tradition and methods forward. The groove and melody of the original, with the feeling of today”.
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