Archive for May, 2007

Jamila Jamma“Upon entering a tiny recording studio in a grimy Nairobi building, Felis removes her face veil, slides headphones onto her ears and starts singing in a high voice: “Girls are raped. Warlords are to blame”.

Over a soundtrack of world music and rap, Felis Abdi and the group Waayaha Cusub, made up of some 20 young Somali refugees, crudely slam the war that has torn up their country for 16 years, almost all their lives.”

The group of young Somali exiles in Nairobi continue to gain coverage. Although controversial, it’s interesting how Somali youth from Kenya to Canada are using hip-hop as a means for communicating their anger over their war-torn country. National Geographic did a good piece on the youth of Africa embracing hip-hop as a means of expressing their political frustration.


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Tizi OuzouReceived this from Mizna. Mizna is an organization based in Northeast Minneapolis, encompassing and presenting the many facets of Arabic art, culture, language, music, etc.

Tizi Ouzou
Written and performed by Taous Khazem
Directed by Zaraawar Mistry
Created in Collaboration with Mizna and Dreamland Arts

Set to the dynamic pulse of Berber and Algerian music, Tizi Ouzou is a story of love, struggle and awakening in the small city of Tizi Ouzou, the historically strife torn capital of the Berber Kabylia region of Algeria. Taous Khazem portrays a multitude of colorful and compelling characters — in search of their history, their country and themselves. (Tickets: $10)

June 1 & 2 at 8:00 p.m.
At Dreamland Arts
677 Hamline Ave N.,
St. Paul, MN 55104
Tel: 651-645-5506
The house only seats 45 so reserve NOW, online or by telephone.
For more information.

Bio: Taous Claire Khazem trained at the Jacques Lecoq International Theatre School in Paris, France and Macalester College. She is an actor, director and teaching artist and has performed in Minneapolis with Frank Theater and 2 time Ivey award winning Off
Leash Area Performance Works. She recently directed A Lion’s Tale: Somali Folktales for SteppingStone Theatre where she is also the Education Coordinator. Taous serves on the Mizna Board of Directors.

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Maryam MursalFrom being the one of first professional female singers in Somalia to being the first female in Mogadishu to drive a taxi cab before seeking refuge in Denmark, Maryam Mursal’s life has been marked by struggle and trail-blazing when necessary for her passions and to simply ensure the survival of her family. In 1966, backing centuries of men-only tradition, the teenage Mursal became one of the first professional female vocalists of the Muslim faith. It wasn’t long before her mastery of the Islamic and African music native to her country won over her fellow Somalians, and Mursal’s own lively blend of music, Somali jazz, which she developed singing in nightclubs, became the sound of her homeland.

Through her career in Somalia, she performed solo and with Waaberi a 300-member music and dance troupe associated with the Somali National Theatre. A piece from Interview Magazine’s Ray Rogers in March 1998, describes her accomplishments in Somalia and exile to Denmark by way of Djibouti, “In 1986 Mursal sang a song called “Ulimada” (“The Professors”), a thinly veiled criticism of her country’s ruling dictator, which led to a ban of her music and another first: In order to feed her family, Mursal became Somalia’s first female taxi driver.

When the regime fell in 1991, Mursal once again became a shining star in her country. Soon, though, the intertribal fighting in Somalia escalated, sending her and her five children packing.

They spent seven months crossing the Horn of Africa by foot, bus, any means necessary, to safety. Mursal was eventually granted refugee status by Denmark, where she was discovered singing to a crowd of three hundred fellow refugees in 1992 by Soren Kjoer Jensen, now her producer and manager. He brought Mursal to the attention of Peter Gabriel, who decided to sign her to his Real World label in 1994.”

In July 1997 Real World released “New Dawn,” Maryam’s recording with the core survivors of the band Waaberi, once a 300-strong troupe of singers, dancers, musicians and actors from the Somalian National Theatre before the destruction of the civil war.

According to her page on the Real World website, one day Maryam hopes to return home to Somalia. “The first good thing I hear about my country, the first suggestion that it is changing, and I will go back – and quickly. It might take five years or even ten years but one day things will change. Everybody needs their country. At home you can be a star but then as a refugee you are looked at like a dog. I am a refugee but I am also a singer. That is my job and that is how I survive.”

You can see Maryam Mursal on two YouTube videos. The first opens in the middle of a performance of Cidlaan Dareemaya (I Feel Alone), contains an interview, and then closes with a performance of Heesteema.

The second video is a live performance in Djibouti. Although the sound is a bit rough, the performance is very good.

The final piece is an interview with Mursal from Freemuse.org explaining in an interview in Haderslev, Denmark, in 2006, her beliefs in music and the Quran. If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to add them. You can also contact me at mnworldbeat at gmail dot com.

Resources for Maryam Mursal

I am greatly in debted to a blog called “Confessions from a funky ghetto hjabi” for her piece on Maryam Mursal.

Maryam Mursal – Wikipedia Entry

Real World Label – Maryam Mursal’s Page

Waaberi – Wikipedia Entry

Minneapolis World Beat Past Post on Waaberi

Waaberi – Page on the Real World Website

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K’naanI have covered Somali rapper, K’naan, on multiple occasions. The brilliance of his lyrics, his freestyle capability, and his serving as a voice for the voiceless in Somalia, always keep me coming back for more. To find more on K’naan:

• Check out his Myspace site and listen to his freestyle piece with Mos Def or Blues 4 the Horn

• Check out K’naan’s latest video “Kicked and Pushed”
• Read his article “Talking back To The Empire” published in NOW Magazine, a Toronto-based publication
• View other videos on his website
• Listen to an interview with K’naan on CBC Radio

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The Stone Arch Bridge in MinneapolisOne of the most striking features of Minneapolis is its bridges. The two bridges that people most identify with are the Stone Arch Bridge and the Hennepin Avenue Suspension Bridge. Crossing over the Mississippi on I-35 West, the Stone Arch bridge is one of the first things that catches your eye. Crossing over the Hennepin Bridge and to see it lit up at night, or to see the Grain Belt sign are two images that I strongly associate with the city.

I came across more information on the Stone Arch Bridge in the Gross Report Blog from Stephen Gross, and really appreciated his thoughts as well as knowing that a bridge can be a powerful symbol that speaks to so many people.

I live near the Stone Arch Bridge. It is unbelievably beautiful. These days, we’re all very much used to civil engineering architecture to consider beauty an afterthought. After seeing countless ugly concrete overpasses and otherwise ho-hum office highrises, I’m delighted to see a beauty such as the Stone Arch bridge.

The Hennepin Bridge is another favorite bridge of mine for its lighting, grace, and simplicity. Bridges 2005 provides images and an extensive history of Minneapolis’ major bridges.

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Rob Asleep by Margaret Bussey“In my work I am led by my intuition. Something I see makes me stop and take a second look. Things, people, and places arrest me for some combination they carry: a combination of emotional reference, visual matters (such as color, shape, and value arrangement), and deeper spiritual meaning. A sense of movement and discovery exists, even in apparently still circumstances.”

The quote from Margaret “Meg” Bussey perfectly describes her finished art whether in painting or printmaking as well as watching her at work as she tries to capture a moment with ink. I watched Bussey multiple times in a continual process as she applied ink to the etched stone, pressed the paper against the inked stone, and rolled the stone and paper through the press.

Once finished she lifts up the paper with the newly inked image, and the whole process seems very magical as she’s trying to capture the image of a bridge. In watching her adjust the amount of ink each time she rolls across the stone, the artistic process of creation and trying to transfer her mental image of the bridge to paper through printmaking seems very sacred. It was amazing to see how each varied outcome appears to be a new work of art.

In addition to creating lithographs, Bussey teaches drawing and painting classes on the Coon Rapids Campus of Anoka-Ramsey Community College (ARCC).

The images show the creative process that Bussey goes through to capture the image of the bridge as a lithograph. You can see the etched image of the bridge on the stone before the inking and printing process as well as the press she uses. She laid the finished attempts out on the table next to the press. The final image shows Bussey looking over her work.

Etched image of a bridge from Meg Bussey Images of bridges laid out The Lithograph Press

The Final Review

Additional works by Bussey can be seen on her website. More information on lithography is available through Wikipedia. Bussey shares a studio with Kurt Seaberg, a painter and printmaker, in the Northrup King Building in studio #361.

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Poem of Wind and TreesThere are a number of events going on this weekend in Minneapolis, these are but a few if you’re looking for things to do:

Latitudes Exhibition from Mizna
Friday, May 25th & Saturday, May 26th at 7:30
The exhibition features both art and performance pieces from area artists who identify as Arab, Muslim, Berber, or Iranian.

Shojo Manga! Girl Power!
Japanese comic works.
May 25 – June 29
MCAD Gallery
2501 Stevens Av. S.
Minneapolis, MN

Eric Alexander Group
Friday, May 25 – Sunday, May 27,
9 pm Friday and Saturday, 8 pm Sunday, $15
The Artists’ Quarter
408 St Peter Street
St.Paul, MN 55102
(651) 292-1359

Highpoint Center for Printmaking
Free reception & meet-the-artist event
Friday May 25, 2007, from 6:30–9:00 PM
Brian Aldrich, Emmy Lingscheit, & Jon Renzella
Read more about the show.

Still in Style: Wax Fashion Museum
Sat May 26
107 3rd Ave N, Mpls.; 612.465.0440
18+. $15| $18 at the door. 9:00 p.m.
Read more.

Lavender Diamond with Entrance
Playing at the Cedar Cultural Center
Sunday, May 27 at 7:30 pm
Tickets – $10 (in advanced) $12 (at the door)

Still Presents Pasts: Korean Americans and the ‘ForgottenWar’
Ongoing free exhibition from Intermedia Arts
Check Intermedia Arts for hours. Ends June 2nd
Still Presents Pasts is a unique traveling art and multi-media exhibit that encourages reflection about the devastation of war for all Americans by exploring the legacies of the Korean War. Still Present Pasts features local Korean American artists and includes a series of educational, outreach, and artistic events.

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