Aar Maanta has earned recognition as the, “voice of the next generation of Somalis,” due to his dedication to composing new work rooted in Somali traditions and his commitment to performing with a full, multi-cultural band.
This residency marked Aar Maanta’s first return to The Cedar since his memorable performance in January 2012.
Monday, April 6th 2015
Panel Discussion: “The Impact of Radicalization on Somali Music Culture” moderated by Aar Maanta with Augsburg faculty member Maheen Zaman
On Monday, April 6, Aar Maanta kicked off his residency week as the featured panelist in a discussion about the impact of radicalization and change of culture on Somali music. Other panelists included Bob Stacke – Midnimo Music Coordinator and Professor and Music Department Chair Emeritus at Augsburg College, Community Organizer and Cedar Board Member Abdirizak Bihi, and Spoken Word Artist Asma Farah. The panel was moderated by the Director of Augsburg College’s Pan-Afrikan Student Services, Mohamed Sallam.
Mini-Performance at Only Every Monday (sponsored by KFAI)
8:00pm at The Nicollet
Aar Maanta and his bandmates played a stripped down performance at The Nicollet Cafe as part of their Midnimo residency.
Tuesday, April 7th 2015
Midnimo Workshop with Aar Maanta (sponsored by West Bank College Bound)
4:00pm-8:00pm at The Common Table
Aar Maanta hosted a workshop sponsored by West Bank College Bound and Interfaith Scholars at Common Tables. This workshop helped participants craft compelling original songs using traditional and contemporary music and storytelling practices with Aar Maanta. The workshop was followed by an open mic so workshop participants and other attendees get to share their pieces.
Wednesday, April 8th 2015
Mini-Performance + Discussion: “Health and Healing Through the Arts” Augsburg Nursing Department with faculty member Katie Clark and People’s Center Health Services
11:00am-12:30pm at People’s Center
On Wednesday, April 8, Aar Maanta performed at the People’s Center Health Services in the People’s Center Theater. The program included a Q&A and dicussion with the band about the relationship of healing and the arts.
Mini-Performance at Augsburg College’s Pan-Afrikan Student Union Africa Week Banquet Dinner
6:00pm-8:00pm at Ukrainian Event Center
Thursday, April 9th 2015
Living Room Concert
7:30pm, Private Residence
Friday, April 10th 2015
With students from Seward Montessori School and Loring Nicollet Alternative School
10:00am at The Cedar Cultural Center
Saturday, April 11th 2015
Aar Maanta Residency Finale Concert with Sanophoenix
8:00pm at The Cedar Cultural Center
The finale performance with Aar Maanta and his band was the perfect conclusion to an amazing week-long residency. Over 700 people were in attendance and included Somali community members, Augsburg College students, and other music fans. Here is what local journalist Chris Riemenschneider had to say about the show (as published in vita.mn): “A textbook example of what makes The Cedar Cultural Center special occurred Saturday when Somali singer Aar Maanta returned to the worldy Minneapolis West Bank venue. The London-based singer packed the room with many Somali residents from the neighborhood, plus students from nearby colleges (especially Augsburg, which hosted music classes with Maanta) and hippies from The Cedar’s past – all of whom danced along excitedly to his jagged grooves even though only some of them could sing along to his lyrics. ‘I’m surprised to see so many non-Somalis,’ Maanta said at one point. ‘Ask the Somali person next to you what I’m singing about.’ The pride Maanta took in the well-received show wasn’t lost in translation, though. ‘There’s been a revival in Somali music.’ he beamed. ‘You can see it here at The Cedar.'”
“The Cedar Cultural Center recently set a challenging goal: get its Somali and non-Somali audiences to mingle.
By all accounts, London-based artist Aar Maanta, with his growing mainstream following, might be just the guy to make that happen. Maanta is in town as part of a partnership with Augsburg College to give local millennials a taste of Somali culture. Maanta’s music is rooted in issues facing his fellow Somali expatriates, but he also has a growing following outside the diaspora.
“There’s a lot of negativity associated with our community, and it’s because of cultural misunderstanding that these issues arise,” Maanta said. “These kinds of events bring people together.”
The Cedar and Augsburg launched the series of residencies late last year with a $200,000 grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. The partners dubbed the project Midnimo, the Somali word for “unity.” It features performances, workshops and classroom visits.
“This is an amazing opportunity for people to experience Somali culture and learn from the Somali community,” said Fadumo Ibrahim, the Cedar’s Somali cultural liaison.
Ibrahim says the center has looked for ways to bring together the Cedar’s largely non-Somali audience and its Somali neighbors in Cedar-Riverside. Some 500 people turned out for a concert by the Dur-Dur Band, a 1980s act that reunited for the occasion. About half in audience were Somalis.
“I had tears in my eyes that night,” said Ibrahim.
Maanta is one of few international Somali artists gaining notice outside the diaspora, Ibrahim said. His music blends traditional Somali influences with contemporary beats.
“I try to convey the beauty of Somali culture and the struggles of the Somali people in the diaspora,” Maanta said.
He said he was drawn to a project that blends music and conversations about these struggles, including a panel discussion on radicalization at Augsburg this past Monday.
– Article by Mila Koumpilova, Star Tribune, April 7, 2015