Waaberi

Somalia

Maryam Mursal, with her stunning voice, is the female star of Waaberi. More than any other Somali artist she is capable of blending musical influences and was the first woman to play Somali jazz. Waaberi, was a 300-strong troupe of singers, dancers, musicians and actors attached to the Somalian National Theatre. "It split up when the civil war happened and we were all scattered," she says. "Some died but most went into exile. They are all around the world, wherever they could find asylum. We keep in touch and we try to help each other." Before her extraordinary voice could be heard in the west, Maryam was forced to spend seven months walking across the Horn of Africa with her five children as she fled the civil war in her native Somalia.

She and her young family hitched rides on trucks and rode on donkeys but mostly they walked, through the desert and over mountains - out of Mogadishu, the Somalian capital, across Kenya, through Ethiopia, recrossing part of Somalia again and eventually arriving in Djibouti where she was given asylum by the Danish embassy.

The album "New Dawn" was recorded with members of Waaberi who then resided in London and was released in 1997.