About Us

The Somali Songs Project represents a collective effort to explore the beauty of Somali poetry and artistic expression. The project is inspired by the pioneering work of Somali researcher Maryan Omar Ali, who collected over 500 cassette tapes documenting Somali popular songs from the 1960s-1980s, the “Golden Era” of Somali popular music and her collaboration with Lidwien Kapteijns, Professor of History at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. Their 1999 book, Women’s Voices in a Man’s World presents song texts and English translations and situates them within the context of Somali cultural and political history. The recordings collected and documented by Ali and Kapteijns were digitized by Harvard University Library in 2017 and are available to the public.

Rehanna Kheshgi, a singer and Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, along with the student members of her course, “Somali Community Engagement through Music” have worked to compile research and translations of the songs in an accessible format for a global audience. Miri Yang-Stevens designed the site’s logo, structure, and style, drawing on Somali cultural themes, and continues to maintain the site as we continue developing and expanding its content. In collaboration with percussionist Harbi Mohamed Kahiye and researcher Sayidcali Ahmed, the songs currently presented on the site were selected for their widespread popularity and deeply felt meaning. 

The Project Team envisions expanding the number of songs, musicians, and poets presented on the site, and hopes to incorporate perspectives on the meaning and value of these songs for Somalis worldwide.