Sound of the Sahara
Meet Mariem Hassan, one of the most respected voices in world music.
Mariem Hassan: the Voice of the Sahara
Mariem's people are Saharawis, living in exile in Algeria since Spain abandoned the Western Sahara in 1975 and their desert lands were claimed by Morocco.
Within the Algerian refugee camps, women singers are recognized as pillars of strength, humanizing the harsh living conditions through their powerful songs of hope.
Mariem Hassan was 17 years old when Morocco annexed the Western Sahara during the 1970s and Marcha Verde (Green March) took place. Her two brothers were able to bring the family to the inhospitable territory of Hamada. Mariem, who now lives in Barcelona, went on to live there for 26 years.
The local musicians realised the necessity of having a group of players with clear political ideas to help with the international promotion of their concerns, so the group El Uali was born. Mariem became part of the group, travelling with them to various countries to take part in cultural events of a high political impact during the war with Morocco.
El Uali recorded four or five albums in different countries, with Mariem participating whenever her family commitments allowed her to. But it wasn't until 1998 that audiences could finally enjoy her voice in some songs of the album A pesar de las heridas.
After this she started a solo career which began with the album Mariem Hassan con Leyoad. Critics unanimously recognized her as the best voice of the western Sahara.
In the film we are taken through the highs and lows of her eventful life to discover her as a courageous and enduring character as we witness her artistic transformation into one of the most charismatic and respected figures of the world music scene.
Mariem Hassan will also be performing at Womadelaide in 2010.
For more information on Mariem Hassan: the Voice of the Sahara, click here.
Published Thursday, 25 March 2010