Music of Mauritania: Dimi Mint Abba

The sound on the first two clips is pretty bad, but the music is wonderful. I love the integration of the electric guitar with the traditional Mauritanian instruments.

Dimi Mint Abba is Mauritania’s most famous musician. She was born Loula Bint Siddaty Ould Abba in 1958 into a low-caste (“iggawin”) family specializing in the griot tradition.

Dimi’s parents were both musicians (her father had been asked to compose the Mauritanian national anthem), and she began playing at an early age. Her professional career began in 1976, when she sang on the radio and then competed, the following year, in the Umm Kulthum Contest in Tunis. Her winning song “Sawt Elfan” (“Art’s Plume”) has the refrain “Art’s Plume is a balsam, a weapon and a guide enlightening the spirit of men”, which can be interpreted to mean that artists play a more important role than warriors in society.


The next clip sounds great. What a voice she’s got! It’s followed by an interview segment in clip 2.