Oum

Morocco
„A star is born in the sky of North Africa! (…) Oum is here, immediately imposing her
style, her personality, her individuality – the mark of great artists.”
- Babelmed

Artist information

The fascinating Moroccan singer Oum El Ghait Benessahraoui seems to have completely arrived in the now - without forgetting the past. The Moroccan artist, singer and songwriter, born in Casablanca in 1978, has an extremely strong, seductive voice that is characterized by the combination of different musical genres and originality. At Oum traditional Arabic and music from the Western Sahara mix discretely with soul, jazz and electronic sounds. It is atmospheric and danceable, dynamic and endlessly topical. Oum's work is absolutely honest, touching and full of social commitment. The artist deals with relevant topics in the texts. The songs are full of sensuality and a kind of spirituality. In them we find inspiration from jazz, soul, gospel and African music, traditional Moroccan music and the rhythms of Gnawa and Hassani, thanks to which the artist became an ambassador for Moroccan culture and is called the Moroccan diva.

Since 2015 she has been enchanting audiences in concert halls and festivals in this country, such as the Konzerthaus Vienna, Philharmonie Cologne, Palmengarten Frankfurt, Bardentreffen Nuremberg and many more.

After “Soul of Morocco” in 2013 and “Zarabi” in 2015, Oum released a new milestone with their third album “DABA”. Together with the Palestinian poet, singer and oud player Kamily Jurban, to whom she entrusted the artistic direction, she traveled to Berlin with her musicians to record an album that is both atmospheric and danceable. The album title "Daba" means something like "now" in Moroccan. While their predecessor albums "Soul of Morroco" and "Zarabi" were limited to one space or one geographical location - North Africa, the desert or Morocco - this time the point of reference is the here and now. The arrangements on "DABA" are largely acoustic, but for the first time electronic sounds decorate their songs, which echo the lyrics, which revolve around current problems. She sings about environmental degradation, the fate of the refugees, the social status of women and the need to live fully in the opposite ward. On Daba, Oum is accompanied by Yacir Rami (Oud), Damian Nueva (bass), Camille Passeri (trumpet), Carlos Mejias (saxophone and sound design) and Amar Chaoui (percussion).

Oum grew up in cosmopolitan Marrakech. There she gained her first musical experiences in a gospel choir led by an African American of Jamaican descent. She sang Jamaican songs and traditional American gospel songs.

Fight against clichés

She studied architecture for five years but did not take the final exams. Not because she was afraid of it, but at that point her decision was clear: she wanted to become a professional musician. The questions “It's great that you sing, but what is your real job?” she no longer liked to hear her acquaintances and friends. Oum wanted to announce to everyone aloud: "I'm a singer and that's my job!"

Oum is combative. It is imperative that she counter the clichés that Moroccan women reduce to a veil, Arabs to fighters of God: “Reality is often hidden behind a veil, skin color or religion. It is important to give everyone the chance to define themselves. It's easy to point a finger at people and call them Islamists or Arab terrorists. I definitely have to intervene. »

The Moroccans are proud of Oum. Many generations can identify with her. Whole families come to their concerts. "The veiled mom sings my erotic songs by heart together with her 13-year-old son, who is a big fan of mine," she explains. Your music doesn't stop at cultural affiliation, age or denomination.

Watch OUM - HNA on Youtube