1971 (age 48)
Rasha is a mononym of Rasha Sheikh Eldin (b. 1971, Khartoum, Sudan), who grew up in Sudan's capital, where the Islamic Nubian and Black African musical worlds collide. She comes from a musical family, one of twenty children. Rasha emigrated to Spain a decade ago to escape the volatile civil war raging between Sudan's Muslim population in the north and its Christian and animist population in the south. Spain is also the home of Rasha's brother, Wafir, a member of the critically acclaimed Radio Tarifa.
It was in Spain that Rasha began work on the critically acclaimed album, "Sudaniyat" (named by Folk Roots editor Ian Anderson as "One of the 10 best of 1997"). This album brings together the diversity of Sudanese music, ranging from Arabic poetry, sufi music and even touches of reggae. The tone of this tender album is set primarily by the Oud and percussion, with backing guitar and bass that magnificently accentuate Rasha's spectacular vocals. Thrown into the mix are violins, accordions and a Sudanese big band.
"I've always wanted to introduce my native music to a broader public and at the same time not limit it to the strictly traditional themes," she explains. "Sudan's music is incredibly diverse and differs in many ways from all other 'African' music: it is not as distinctly rhythmic and danceable - even though it is full of complex rhythms - but puts more emphasis on melody. It is more melancholic; it sounds downright sad. And even though it is, at a first glance, very similar to Arabic music, Sudanese music is different - a mixture of both, and yet unlike either of them." Another key feature of Rasha's work is her dedication to social justice, women's rights, and human rights for refugees. Rasha performed at the United Nation's Working Women's Day Celebration in 1998. She also traveled to the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria to raise awareness of the tens of thousands of Western Sahara refugees that have been trapped there for more than two decades.
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