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Guide to the Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories 2018.006

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Elena Locascio

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 13, 2019
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Revised by Maggie Schreiner to reflect updated access restrictions.  , April 2019

Container List

Oral History Interview with Alsarah Abunama-Elgadi, August 31, 2018

Biographical / Historical

Alsarah Abunama-Elgadi was born in 1982 in Khartoum, Sudan. Her family fled political persecution in 1991 and spent several years living in Yemen before immigrating to the United States in 1994. They settled in Amherst, Massachusetts. After earning her undergraduate degree in music from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, she moved to New York City to pursue singing professionally. She started the band Alsarah and the Nubatones in 2010; they released the albums Silt in 2014 and Manara in 2016. She also released the solo album Aljawal in 2013 and was featured in several other albums, including the Nile Project's Aswan in 2013.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Alsarah Abunama-Elgadi discusses her childhood in Sudan, including her parents' political activism; her father's imprisonment following the 1989 Sudanese coup d'état; and the family immigrating first to Yemen and then to the United States. She speaks on her experiences attending school in Amherst, Massachusetts as well as studying ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. She expands on her musical background and career, especially regarding her band, Alsarah and the Nubatones; recording their albums, Silt and  Manara; and her connection to Nubian music. She touches on her collaboration on  Coming Out Brooklyn: Radical Acts of Self-Love by Wazina Zondon (interviewed for this collection on August 2, 2018). She also talks about her relocation to the Ditmas Park neighborhood of Brooklyn after college; her cultural and religious connections to Islam; and her memories of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks in 2001. Interview conducted by Zaheer Ali.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online at the Oral History Portal.

Subject Names

  • Alsarah
  • El-Aasser, Rami
  • Manoukian, Haig
  • Zondon, Wazina

Subject Organizations

  • Alsarah and the Nubatones
  • Wesleyan University (Middletown, Conn.)

Subject Topics

  • Africa -- Colonization
  • Bands (Music) -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnomusicologists
  • Immigrants -- United States
  • Islam -- Customs and practices
  • Mawlid al-Nabī -- Sudan
  • Music -- African influences
  • Music -- Performance
  • Muslim families
  • Political activists -- Sudan
  • Political violence -- Sudan -- History -- 20th century
  • Racism
  • Religion and culture -- Sudan
  • Sound recordings -- United States
  • Sudan -- History -- Civil War, 1983-2005
  • Sudanese
  • Sudanese musicians

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Khartoum (Sudan)