You can’t help but be enveloped in the magnetic presence of Asia Madani; she laughs easily, but looks at the world with great conviction. At times soft spoken and quiet, others rambunctious, Asia owns the center of attention, even offstage.
Asia is a Sudanese singer, based in Cairo. Since landing in the Egyptian metropolis around 18 years ago, she has proceeded to make her mark on the music scene and gain a devoted following. Asia participated in The Nile Project, representing Sudan with her thorough knowledge of traditional music forms from all sides of her country. She toured the United States and played many other shows abroad with them.
Asia comes from a place of deep tradition, and a society where women play a central role in music. Her world view and music weave together different branches of Sudanese folklore and spirituality, including zar, aghani binaat or “girls songs,” among other deep-rooted forms. She plays the traditional Sudanese drum, the dalouka along with the el gara’a gourd with sticks.
Asia currently plays with her own group, and also plays with Afriqairo led by Ahmed Omar, and recently released her debut album Al Zoul. Her fans are like none other in Cairo, passionate enough to join her on stage (sometimes at the chagrin of security) or rise from seating to exhibit the undulating and hypnotic dance that is signature of Sudan.
We had tea with Asia Madani at Antique Khana, and she told us about her early life in Sudan, her connection with zar, and societal ignorance. Accompanied by her percussionist Bezra, Asia also played and sang some beautiful Sudanese folk songs.
Shot on location at Antique Khana
Video and photography by @scenenoise