Taking their name from the Somalian word for morning, Waaberi has helped usher in a new era of traditional Somalian music. Comprised of former members of Somalia's National Theater, which flourished before the civil war, the group has continued to explore the musical traditions of its homeland. While Billboard described Waaberi's music as "an intoxicating mix of African and Arabic influences," Spirit called their repertoire "raw, hypnotic, and powerful tunes of traditional and modern Somalia -- beautiful and cruel, African and Arabic....music that carries the ethereal quality of the oud and the wonderful earthiness of Afro-percussion." Waaberi continues to showcase the soulful singing of vocalist Maryam Mursal. The first woman to play Somali jazz, Mursal was singing in Somalian nightclubs as early as 1966. While the foundation of her music remains in traditional Somalian music, her influences include the music of Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Despite her fame, Mursal was a victim of the Somalian civil war. Forced to flee her homeland, she was prevented from singing in public for two years. Electing to leave her homeland, she walked with five of her ten children for seven months across the Horn of Africa before settling in Denmark. Attracting worldwide acclaim for their performance at the WOMAD Festival in Reading, England, in 1997, Mursal and Waaberi toured throughout North America during June and July 1998. The group joined with Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy to record a self-titled album.
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