All of your favorites, in one place.
The return of the Zanzibara series: a Deep Taarab masterpiece from legendary singer Zuhura Swaleh, recorded in Nairobi in 1981.
Zuhura Swaleh & Party rose to fame on the Mombasa scene in the 1970s
with a new fast-paced taarab style based on local ngoma rhythms and its
melodies. The group sound was lead by an electrically amplified
tashkota (actually a Japanese instrument correctly spelled as
taishokoto), its shape best rendered as being a kind of “typewriter
banjo”—a trio of strings shorted by way of the typewriter-style keys
with the left hand, while the right hand strums the strings with a
plectrum. The resulting sound is resembling a mix of electric guitar,
slide guitar and sitar, with the possibility of making the metal keys
hammer and slide on the strings, and the unison-tuned strings producing
some kind of frequency modulation.
Zuhura’s chakacha-styled taarab sound—so-called after the leading ngoma rhythm it is often based on—along with the stingy lyrics she preferred became popular far and wide up and down the coast inspiring and giving rise to local genres like the Zanzibar chakacha or Dar es Salaam’s Zaramo mchiriku. Voicing and propagating women’s concerns and the no-nonsense way of speaking out openly also helped pave the way for the new “modern taarab” that came to fore in the 1990s with singers Malika and then Khadija Kopa and the like in Dar es Salaam.