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Mim Suleiman

Pemba Island, Zanzibar // Sheffield, UK


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Biography


1Mim Suleiman is a boundary crossing sing-songwriter, blender traditional Taarab vibes with dub and disco. Singer, songwriter, composer, documentary filmmaker, lecturer. Mim Suleiman’s life is a blur of constant motion – from the roles of mother to globally-renowned musician.

Mim’s origin

Mim Suleiman was born in Pemba island. The second largest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago lying off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean. She spent most of her earlyschool years in Stone town, Shangani, playing on the same streets as Freddie Mercury once did.

African and Zanzibari Role

Mim is one of Zanzibar’s modern musical icons alongside Bi Kidude! The biggest inspirational artist ever known from Zanzibar!

“She was one of these powerful women who possess so much knowledge, but it’s untapped. We still haven’t quite acknowledged the contributions to the arts that women like her have made.”

“With no more than a very strong musical attachment to my spirit I found myself in Music… singing… writing and constantly learning. What started off as a hobby became my full time job. With no musical background I embarked on a journey that I knew nothing about but I knew what I knew and I knew what is possible. The rollercoaster ride continues…
Music has always been in my blood. I guess it was just the matter of time!”

Mingi, a song from her debut album Tungi released in 2010 is said to be the first African Song to be featured in GTAV. Since then she has released two more albums: Umbeya – 2012 and Adera Dera in 2015. The rollercoaster ride continues…

“Before I spoke English, what stood out about music from other cultures was the impact of the voice”, she explains. “The emotions contained in melody… the energy that it gave me. It moved me deeply, even if I didn’t know the lyrics.”

Now, Suleiman uses that mix to push audiences outside their comfort zone. For listeners, she emphasises the importance of communication outside of the English language; for her own music, she never restricts herself to only traditional East African sound palettes.

Preservation of the East African Women in the Arts

The singer is hoping to preserve the legacies of women like Bi Kidude through other outlets. Directed by Zippy Kimundu and prominently featuring Suleiman, the 2015 film uSISTA looks at how women in East Africa have organised, agitated, and influenced the world around them, and the artist hopes to continue these conversations.

“These histories just aren’t reflected. To this day, googling East African women won’t give an accurate picture of what we’ve done in the arts.”

Suleiman’s music brings the knowledge and culture of her people to the forefront: whether in the traditional costumes that she prepares for live shows or through interwoven proverbs and stories of older generations – as if time itself is shifting throughout her tunes.

Links

Thump Presents From Techno to 105-Year-Old Tanzanian Singers, Mim Suleiman’s Music knows No Boundaries: https://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/from-techno-to-108-year-old-tanzanian-singers-mim-suleimans-music-knows-no-boundaries

Artist Trove – Mim Suleiman: http://www.artisttrove.com/artist/104708869261/Mim+Suleiman

Africa Express reviews:

”Undoubtedly the show was a highly entertaining success, although perhaps a qualified one, with those who weren’t inclined to take notes perhaps remaining unaware that Traore’s was the name behind that elemental vocal, or that the Zanzibarian Mim Suleiman was the woman with the ferocious voice and dance moves appearing alongside Krar Collective in the second room.”

The Independent

”Yet among such a wealth of talent, individual performances threatened to become lost, and it’s uncertain how many in the audience would have been aware afterwards, for example, that Rokia Traore was the wonderful Malian singer who duetted with Albarn on Gorillaz’ On Melancholy Hill, or that the wild-haired and electrifying of voice Mim Suleiman had been the star of the show.” The Scotsman

”From the UK, there were the likes of Rizzle Kicks, Afrikan Boy, Martina Topley-Bird, Kyla La Grange, Reeps One, Pauli the PSM, as well as London-based Krar Collective, originally from Ethiopia, and Tanzanian Mim Suleiman, among many others.” The BBC

Other reviews:

”For me, the highlights were when Diabel Cissokho took the lead, and the breathtaking performance of Mim Suleiman” The great escape festival, UK Festivals guide

“Think of Miriam Makeba, meets Aretha Franklin……..Mim show-stopping performance is already the talk of the town” (Dave Jarvis.)

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