Music of Somalia

East African music

Somalia has the distinction of being one of only a handful of African countries that are composed almost entirely of one ethnic group, the Somalis. Traditional bands like Waaberi have gained a small following outside the country, and others, like Maryam Mursal, haved fused Somali traditional music with rock, bossa nova, hip hop and, especially, jazz, influences. Native instruments include the batar drum. Somalia has also produced native hip hop crews like the Skyhigh Family.

Because of the proximity and cultural simlarities with the Arab World, Arab music has been gaining popularity here, as it is the majority of music videos on television.


Popular music

Most Somali music talks about love, but some recall how life in Somalia was before the Somalian Civil War,some talk about how Somalis should be together to unite and rebuild the country back to its former glory.

The center of the Somali music industry is not in Somalia anymore because of the war. It is in Toronto, where a sizable Somali community exists. The industry is also concentrated in London, Minneapolis, and Columbus.


The first major form of Somali modern art begin in the mid-1930s, when Somalia was part of the British Somaliland Protectorate. This movement was the Xer-Dhaanto, who innovated an urban form of Somali folk dance and song. This period also saw the rise of the Xaaji Baal Baal Dance Troupe, which became very influential over the course of its long career.

Somali popular music began with the balwo style, which was created by musicians like Qadiija Ciye Dharaar and Cabdi Deeqsi Sinimoo. This style began in Boorame and then spread throughout the area. It was a mixture of modern poetry and Arabian dance music.

Cabdillahi Qarshe rose to fame in the early 1940s as part of the qaraami style. Many qarami songs from this era are still extremely popular.

During the military domination of Somalia, music was suppressed except for a small amount of officially-sanctioned music. There were many protest songs produced during this period.

Music institutions

The first radio station in Somalia was Radio Somali, in Hargeysa.

Somali musicians


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