With her incendiary voice, Noura Mint Seymali is one of Mauritania’s foremost musical emissaries. Born into a line of Moorish griot (traditional West African storytellers, praise singers, poets and musicians), Noura is revolutionary in a number of intentional and consequential ways. She and her band are driven by faith in the music, deep knowledge of the tradition it comes from, and a willingness to pursue a novel vision that thoughtfully transforms Moorish music while positioning it on the global cultural spectrum.
Further, Noura has always led a band that has transcended fraught racial boundaries within Mauritania by regularly working with Wolof, Soninke and Pulaar musicians and collaborating with artists outside Mauritania. While this is uncommon for Moorish griot, talent and cultural authority allow Noura to eschew notions of cultural purity and therefore, expand, modernize, and ultimately safeguard this centuries old literary and artistic tradition.
Noura and her band conjure “a full blown sandstorm of hypnotic grooves, melding traditional Mauritanian instruments within an electrified psychedelic rock band.” – The Quietus (UK). As described by NPR, “the arrival of Mauritanian vocalist Noura Mint Seymali in front of Western audiences feels like the start of a new era.”
Noura’s performance is presented as part of Artistic Freedom Initiative’s RADICAL RECITATIONS, a four day arts festival that is not only a celebration of freedom of artistic expression, it is a testament to the radical power of storytelling to catalyze social change and a call to action in defense of artistic freedom.
Photography by Nosrat Tarighi and Thom Goertel