At the beginning of the 20th century, the taarab music of Zanzibar was revolutionized by the singer Siti Binti Saad. In stark contrast to previous versions, hers was an improvised people’s music with lyrics in both Arabic and Swahili. As the first female superstar of the genre, Siti Binti Saad also paved the way for coming generations – one of them being her great granddaughter Siti Muharam, who is bringing new life to the old songs on a much acclaimed album called Siti of Unguja.
In this episode of Clandestino Podcast, Markus Görsch is joined by Siti Muharam as well as oud player Hassan Mahenge and Pete Buckenham of the record label On the Corner. We’ll hear about the process behind this album and about Siti Binti Saad’s importance for the music of Zanzibar.