‘One doesn’t need to understand a language to understand the message!’

In the framework of their cultural program “Querbe@t”, the cultural management of the BASF brought an extraordinary artist to Ludwigshafen in dasHaus on January 22nd 2016. There is talk of Oum, a female Moroccan singer, who was born in Casablanca in 1987. We were on the spot!

The singer Oum El Ghait has been singing all her life and music his her constant companion. The young woman started with small Soli in the gospel choir of her hometown. When she was 17 years old, she recorded her first song and therefore gave the starting shot of her career. From that moment on, Oum took every opportunity to work on her dream to reach the people with her music. She was working with a lot of artists and producers all over the world and released her first album “Lik” in Casablanca already in 2009. Her fan community constantly grew and three years later she accomplished her second creation “Sweetry”.

Since then, she already took over Morocco and is now trying to convince Europe and on January 22nd, she was performing  in Ludwigshafen. The 270m² hall provides space for 800 people and Oum was able to fill it almost completely. After beiing frustrated, that the hall wasn’t seated, the audience forgot all about it, after Oum entered the stage around 8pm. With her charming and unconventional character, the barefoot singer immediately won the sympathy of the crowd. In a colorful, light dress and with an orange turban and sublime jewelry, Owe just had to smile once to mesmerize the audience. A extremely talented four-person band is joining her on stage. Contrabass, cross flute, drums & percussion, trumpets, the Moroccan Gnawa-castanets and the oud (an guitar-like instrument) – every single instrument is essential for this wonderful concert.

After a short intro, Oum starts to talk a little bit about herself. Freedom, hope, emancipation, women, love, life: all that is just a fraction of all the values, that Oum is standing an fighting for. It is her first time in Germany, she explains. On this evening she performs her album “Soul of Morocco” (2013) and her new album “Zarabi” (2015). She is very proud of her Moroccan roots, of the variety of Morocco and his thrilled to carry her audience off to Morocco. The first song of the evening is from her album “Soul of Morocco”. The song is called “Aji”, translates to “Come!” and can be described as a celebration of life. A very sensual and inviting start of the concert. One immediately gets the feeling, that Oum is opening a door to another world. Whether cello, trumpet, castanets or a singing solo – each single song captivates the audience in its own special way and lets people dive into the magic of the orient. The rhythmic sounds of Jazz, Blues, Soul and Gospel dominate her music and the mixture of tradition and modernity is fascinating.

Her fourth song “Salam”, which means freedom, is from her album “Soul of Morroco” and has a special, sad and also touching message. This song is dedicated to a talented photographer from Morocco, who died in the in consequence of a terrorist attack in Burkina Faso. Leila Alaouri was an artist, who was known for her work about migration, cultural variety and identity. And she was also Oums friend, only 33 years old. On this evening, Oum explains, friends and family of Leila Alaoui will come together in her hometown to think of her. One can absolutely feel the condolence, that fills the hall and Oum seems pensive for a while. But despite the sadness, which Oum is certainly still handling with, she and her band are moving the crowd with the song. During the song a whole room full of people thinks of Leila Alaoui.

With her voice she combines typical elements from Africa with current music and therefore creates a special sound. She underlines, that sometimes it is not easy to explain in English, what her songs mean in Arabic. The best way to understand them, is to indulge into the song and letting the music speak for itself. Oum then proudly presents one of her first songs called “Lik” from “Soul of Morocco”. Just before the band starts to play, she looks inward and thanks her band members. She praises their talent and their warming personalities. One gets the impression, that this band is a little family. They appear very familiar and they all seem to be very happy to be able to perform with each other. Some of her musicians are from Cuba and taught her a lot about their culture. And there is a lot to learn from Cuban music, she adds. The song “Venite Anos” from Maria Teresa Vera fascinated her and her band and that’s why she translated it to Arabic and created her very own version of it.

Of course Oum doesn’t want to just impart the aforementioned values with her songs. Another important topic for her is “Family”. The song “Wali” from her new album, can be described with this topic, but in Arabic “Wali” means even more than that. With an important message, she intones the song with her Moroccan Gnawa castanets: “You have to know and charish where you come from to understand where you are going”. This tune is a tribute to her family, to the ones before her, and the ones that are about to come. A tribute, that is shared with the listeners. Another song from her new album takes the audience to a journey to the desert. Oum is raving of the nomads, their culture and her personal acquaintance with them. First, just one song was dedicated to the nomads, but then her band was so enthused by the energy and the wisdom of the nomads, that they decided to record the whole album there. The last song of the evening is probably the most infectious. Although she didn’t wrote it herself, it is definitely another beautiful rhythmic song, which also puts the desert in the center. The crowd cheers, the excitement is contagious. No one can stand still anymore and everyone starts to move with the rhythm. Oum lets the castanets sound and gives herself into the music.Barely after Oum and her band left the stage, encore-calls from the audience demand another number. The crowd is happy.

Oum says of herself, that she is a devoted Muslim, but that she wants to decide over her body alone. A very important message for women around the world. Faith is a strong belief and a certain approach to life, but still everyone has the right to make his or her own decisions about their body. This is an option, that should be more accepted in our society, Oum says and serves as a role model. She is able to combine Arabic traditions with unconventional Jazz, Gospel and Soul. With her music she gives an insight into her own world. Definitely an outstanding and impressive artist.

Here you can watch some selected Music videos from Oum, to get idea of how she sounds. Have fun!