Aziza Brahim: Abbar el Hamada

The refugee blues as sung by a young Sahrawi woman.

Aziza Brahim Abbar el Hamada artwork

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Aziza Brahim grew up in a Sahrawi (a nomadic, North African people) refugee camp in the Saharan desert and now lives in exile in Barcelona. She proves herself as the foremost female exponent of desert blues and a rising star in her own right.

Where Tinariwen employ a jagged, raw sound with electric guitar at the forefront, Brahim’s sound is gentler, filled with a keen yearning. Not that Brahim is to be found strumming an acoustic guitar and weeping: her band of African and Spanish musicians create a powerful, if occasionally too busy, groove and she sings with authority on seeking peace, deserts, cities, mountains, the grace of life and the fury that underpins uprisings (the CD comes with translated lyrics).

If you have ever wondered what the African refugee blues might sound like, here is the answer.