A typical Gemini, this Sahrawi (Berber, Moroccan-Arabic) singer-songwriter, actress and human rights activist has been through it all. Born 31 years ago in a refugee camp on the Western Sahara in disputed territory, her first escape was a scholarship in Cuba at the age of 11. She wanted to study music there but it didn’t work out. In answer to the rejection and back at the refugee camp, she won 1st place in the National Song Contest of the Sahrawi Nation in 1995.
Working with Tuareg musicians and joining the Sahrawi group Leyoad she toured Spain, France and Germany. Eventually being influenced by her collaboration with the Spanish Latin jazz band Yayabo, she founded the group Gulili Mankoo, composed of musicians from Western Sahara, Spain, Colombia and Senegal that was mixing traditional African sounds with blues and rock. Since 2009 Aziza’s been regularly touring also with the Basque txalaparta group Oreka Tx. And to keep things more varied she wrote the soundtrack for the Spanish movie «Wilaya» and starred in it for the first time as an actress. (What was that about her being a Gemini?). But her main creative energies still belong to her own Sahrawi people and to all oppressed refugees everywhere. «Ever since I arrived in this world, I’ve lived as a refugee despite moving to the North I have remained a refugee. Living in tents, worn out by time they’re witness of my sensibility and faith» she sings in her song Lagi.
Welcome the beautiful and talented Aziza Brahim with the voice and a message that could make even the stoic Sahara show compassion.
Grieving for the exiled thousands stranded in an inhospitable tract of Western Sahara whose only escape is «music and imagination». Potent stuff.» – The Guardian