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Alsarah & The Nubatones

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Alsarah’s circuitous journey toward stardom began as a double refugee — first from conflict in her native Sudan, then from civil war in neighboring Yemen. After arriving in New York in the mid-1990s, Alsarah turned to music as a living link to her homeland, both as an ethnomusicologist and as a singer with a velvety voice and socially conscious lyrics. Alongside percussionist Rami El-Aasser, bassist Mawuena Kodjovi, oud player Brandon Terzic, and background vocalist Nahid, Alsarah has given the traditional music of Sudan a contemporary pulse and finish. She is a new breed of pop star, countering the turmoil of troubled times with her effervescent music. “I often get audience members who are avid music listeners but have never heard East African music before,” the singer-songwriter said in 2014. It’s a sound from a musical crossroads, drawing on sub-Saharan rhythms and the Arabic traditions of North Africa. As her star ascends, Alsarah’s intoxicating pop updates on the rich musical traditions of the Nubian region have found large, eager audiences. To finish up her weeklong DP residency, Alsarah & The Nubatones take the stage at Motorco. Dubbed “the new princess of Nubian pop and Sudanese retro” by The Guardian and praised by NPR for “undoubtedly opening new worlds for more than a few,” Alsarah & The Nubatones have become global ambassadors for what NPR calls “deep rhythms and serious grooves.” Alsarah & The Nubatones’ residency at Duke Performances is funded, in part, by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts, & co-sponsored by the Duke Islamic Studies Center, the Duke University Middle East Studies Center & the Duke Africa Initiative.

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