Legendary Zanzibari singer Bi Kidude dies

Posted on April 17th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

© Andy Jones

Doyenne of Zanzibari music passes away

A legend in East Africa, Zanzibari taarab singer Bi Kidude, passed away today in her home, her nephew confirmed. Nobody is really sure of her exact age, but it is believed she was approaching 100 years, if not already older.

She was born Fatma Bint Baraka to the daughter of a coconut creeper on the larger of Zanzibar’s two islands, Unguja. Bi Kidude (kidude meaning ‘little thing’), became a globally renowned cultural icon for her haunting voice and age-defying onstage performances laced with intermittent smoking and drinking. Both a master of unyago and taarab forms, she burst onto the European stage in 1989 and has ever since been revered within the world music scene – being honoured with a WOMEX award in 2005.

Read our Beginner’s Guide to Bi Kidude, featured in the Jan/Feb 2011 (#73) issue of Songlines here.

Watch Bi Kidude performing with the Culture Musical Club below. 

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