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Noura Mint Seymali brings Mauritanian funk to Crossroads Music this weekend

noura mint seymali
Noura Mint Seymali | photo via artist’s website

This Sunday, February 26th, Crossroads Music will welcome Noura Mint Seymali to their West Philly headquarters. The Mauritanian musician is returning to the city in support of her latest album Arbina, a record that bridges the vibrant traditional sounds of her West African and griot heritage and contemporary psych/funk music.

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Noura Mint Seymali will change everything you think about Afropop

Noura Mint Seymali | Photo courtesy of the artist
Noura Mint Seymali | Photo courtesy of the artist

American writers generally have a tough time talking about African music, and it’s easy to see why. For those listeners who lack the time and resources to learn any of the continent’s hundreds of languages, not to mention every subdivision and nuance of music under the sun, our knowledge is restricted to the handful of artists that music writers can feel confident talking about – artists with global ambitions that, in a digital age, likely make some amount of choice to spread their message to a global audience with whatever power of presentation they have.

The term “Afropop” is a catch-all for a lot of popular music styles from across the continent, but chances are high that you’re only think about very specific artists or genres. Highlife. Fela Kuti. Youssou N’Door. Antibalas. Afrobeat (Kuti’s term). These signifiers conjure up images of large bands with elaborate horn and percussion sections, a few electric instruments sitting comfortably alongside traditional African ones, syncopated rhythms and evocative lyrical refrains that blur the line between dance party and socio-political rally.

An artist like Noura Mint Seymali, who makes her Philadelphia debut at The Painted Bride this Saturday, do not fit so neatly into that narrative. Continue reading →