Friday 1 July 2022
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The golden voice of taarab brings songs from a powerful female legacy back to life

On Siti Muharam’s shoulders rests the legacy of her great-grandmother, taarab music legend Binti Saad.

Saad is credited as a true trailblazer, being the first woman in East Africa to record her music on an album ever. A legendary figure with a rebellious spirit, Saad took taarab music with its mix of Arabic, Swahili and Indian influences out of the sultan’s palace and turned it into the popular sound of Zanzibar.

70 years later, a rumour emerged that she had a great granddaughter, Siti Muharam, who had never been recorded but possessed ‘a golden voice’.

Oud player Mohamed Issa Matona set about curating an album that would bring Siti Binti Saad’s music back to life and, at the same time, shine a light on one of Zanzibar’s hidden talent, Siti Muharam.

On the resulting album, 2020’s Siti of Unguja, Siti Huharam emerges as an enchanting singer who wears her legacy with pride and adds a noir-jazz slinkiness to the traditional taarab style on a record that is both an evocative snapshot of Zanzibar’s rich cultural past and a glimpse of its future.

The album won Songlines awards for ‘African Artist of the Year’ as well as ‘Album of the year’.

Now, Siti Muharam takes the songs out on the road, and she drops by Roskilde Festival. Don’t miss out on the classic taarab songs and Siti Huharam’s golden voice.