Before I went to Sudan for the first time, a friend who had lived there before told me to look up the music to get a sense of the country. That advice is something I think of to this day—at the time, I found it hard to orient myself on the music traditions, and I didn’t really understand how important that advice really was. Since then, I’ve heard certain songs quoted in casual conversations, with lyrics used as the names for youth initiatives or shops. “Do you know —-?” is a question I get on a regular basis. It’s clear that music, as in many places, is incredibly influential and that there’s a whole range out there, from very traditional songs to current-day musicians.
What’s stuck out for me, however, is the way that certain musicians in Sudan have been very important, whether through their work, their political stances, or a combination of the both, with their work reproduced for multiple generations of listeners. Many of those musicians were famous in the late 60s and the 70s, though I’m sure there are some from earlier.
As a result, (and in an attempt to better educate myself), I’m going to post about older Sudanese musicians on a semi regular basis. I will need help though. Sudanese readers: who do you listen to? Who does your parents listen to? Post in the comments or email me.
In the meantime, I will leave you with a song by Mohamed Wardi.