Somali disco, funk and soul band, Dur-Dur was a phenomenon sweeping through the country’s impeccable music scene during the 1980s. Poetically enticing and combined with the likes of dhaanto (Somali traditional folk dance), Dur-Dur means Spring in Somali and it is the perfect rendition for an overflowing cup of richness, seeping into the souls of its listeners.
Libaan Noah, the founder of today’s version of the band, aims to revive what was left of the music group after its disbandment due to the civil war in the early 1990s.
Young Noah scouted talent in an attempt to train young artists to bring back the soul of Dur-Dur, with a new look. He exclusively told Shift how not only is Somalia the “nation of poets” but that “Somali artists are at the forefront and guardians of our beautiful culture”. His love for music came from his late mother who was also a musician alongside his overall love for the band, which gave him immense joy as a young teen, grooving endlessly to glorious vintage funk.
Band members today include: Nabil Sacaani and Cumar Teesiyow as the lead guitarists and Xabiib Sharaabi, Cabdinuur Alaale and Faadumina Hilowle as the band’s vocalists.
The revamped band has been growing its original fan base since its first comeback show in 2002, at the Brixton Academy.
Somalia, known for its poetic culture, upholds the oral tradition by using poetry as a form of expression, from resolving political conflict to Buraanbur (traditional poetic form recited with drums). Dur-Dur remembers this with every track released. For example, the song Dooyo includes the lyrics: “I am warning you guys, I hear drums playing for me and it’s healing me and I won’t resist. It’s my medicine.” The lyrics certainly provide immense solace and comfort.
Instead of focusing on political or social issues, Noah stresses that Dur-Dur’s main focus is on romance and culture throughout: “Music is in my blood, I have a deep passion for it.”
The revival of Dur-Dur is most certainly a powerful example of the preservation of soulful music; a facet of legendary Somali tunes. The current band is paying homage to music that was as popular as Michael Jackson in Somalia, back in the 1980s.
Dur-Dur continued to ripple throughout the music scene in Eastern Africa before the country became destabilised. As the founder of this revival, Noah mentioned how his driving force was to “reunite Somali musicians to bring back the life of music”.
He encourages young musicians to steer away from mainstream music and to create from the heart. After their performance in Koko in Camden in 2019, there were pages dedicated purely to Dur-Dur. Noah said: “I knew then I’d done my job.” The band was also listed for worldwide awards that year.
The legacy of Dur-Dur continues to thrive globally around the world today and is sought after by the Somali diaspora everywhere worldwide. Noah wishes to support young upcoming musicians and creatives in Somalia who are lacking the resources to create freely. The band’s most recent performance was on May 4 at Koko in Camden.
The group will be touring again this August.