A voice that drew thousands and was called the James Brown of Somali music now lives in relative obscurity in Rochester, Minnesota. I came across this story purely by accident while searching for stories on Somali culture in Minneapolis on Minnesota Public Radio a few weeks ago and was really struck by it.
“Hibo Mohamed Nuur’s legendary voice drew thousands to concerts from Mogadishu to Toronto…Nuur became a household name in Somalia in the 1970s. She recorded dozens of live and studio albums. But with the fall of the Somali government in 1991, much of that work was destroyed. She now lives in relative obscurity in Rochester.”
Many people may not aware of it, but the Twin Cities have a sizeable Somali population that has immigrated here since the 1990’s. It’s amazing that in this turmoil and chaos that someone so gifted and celebrated could be lost. We have a jewel in our midst in Nuur, and it’s probably safe to say that the vast majority of Minnesotans are unaware. It also reminds of the sacrifices that many immigrants make to find safety in times of strife. To have to give up careers and the home you’ve known for your entire life for the chance at safety in a land you barely know. I’m sure this probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of stories the Somali population could tell if we opened up and listened.
MPR Somali Music Stories
The ‘James Brown of Somalia:’ – Hibo Mohamed Nuur – MPR – Contains 2 of Nuur’s songs
Somali music is here, but hard to find – MPR
Other Exiled Somali Musicians