Celebrated Mauritanian Vocalist and Instrumentalist
Noura Mint Seymali Makes Her San Diego Debut
“A modernising, transformative force in Mauritanian music.”—The Guardian
La Jolla, C.A.—One of Mauritanian’s most adventurous young artists, Noura Mint Seymali blends her entrancing voice with a mix of funk bass, drums, and psych guitar and creates “a mesmerizing tension between ancient and futuristic” (Chicago Reader). Raised at a crossroad where sounds and culture from the Sahara, the Maghreb, and West Africa coalesce, Noura applies ancient musical traditions of the griot with a savvy aesthetic engagement in our contemporary moment, emerging as a powerful voice at the nexus of a changing Africa. Presented by ArtPower at UC San Diego, Noura Mint Seymali performs at UC San Diego’s Price Center East Ballroom on Thursday, March 3, at 8 p.m. Tickets for event are $30 and can be ordered online at boxoffice.ucsd.edu or by calling the box office at 858.534.TIXS (8497). Additional program information can be found at artpower.ucsd.edu.
Noura Mint Seymali is a nationally beloved star and one of Mauritania’s foremost musical emissaries. Born into a prominent line of Moorish griot (West African traveling poets, musicians, and/or storytellers), Noura began her career at age 13 as a supporting vocalist with her stepmother, the legendary Dimi Mint Abba. Trained in instrumental technique by her grandmother, Mounina, Noura mastered the ardine, a 9-string harp reserved only for women. Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, Noura’s father and namesake, sparked her compositional instincts, himself a seminal scholar figure in Mauritanian music; studying Arab classical music in Iraq, devising the first system for Moorish melodic notation, adapting the national anthem, and composing many works popularized by his wife, Dimi. Fueled by the exploratory sound of her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly’s emotive psych guitar lines, Noura and Jeiche formed their first “fusion” band in 2004. Jeiche, a master of the tidinit (traditional stringed musical instrument from West Africa), brings the force of yet another important line of Moorish griot to bear, translating the tidinit’s intricate phrasing to a modified electric guitar with heroic effect. His unique sound, mirroring vocal lines and then refracting their melodies into the either, was born out of years presiding over wedding ceremonies, directing the dance often as the sole melodic instrument. In addition to his work with Noura, Jeiche remains one of Nouakchott’s most sought after guitarists for traditional ceremonies.
ArtPower at UC San Diego builds creative experiences in music, dance, film, exhibition, and food for our collective pleasure and inspiration. We engage diverse audiences through vibrant, challenging, multi-disciplinary performances by emerging and renowned international artists. Through extensive partnerships, ArtPower provides exciting opportunities for research, participation, and creation of new work, igniting powerful dialogue between artists, students, scholars, and the community.