Maryam Mursal (born January 1, 1940) is a Somali composer and vocalist. Mursal grew up in Somalia in a Muslim family with four daughters. As a teenager, she broke with tradition and began singing professionally in Mogadishu. She performed in nightclubs and her brand of music, featuring a mix of blues, soul, Somali and Arabic influences, and known as Somali jazz, became popular across the country. Performing primarily solo, she also collaborated with Waaberi, a 300-member music and dance troupe associated with the Somali National Theatre. Later, after having criticized Somalia’s then ruling military government, she was banned from singing for two years, and made her living driving a taxi.
During the subsequent civil war in her homeland, Mursal and her five children moved to neighbouring Djibouti, where she found asylum in the Danish embassy. It was this odyssey that provided the germ of her solo recording The Journey, with guitars, sequencers and back-up vocals from Peter Gabriel.
Mursal still lives abroad, now residing in UK. She has toured Europe with Waaberi and appeared with Nina Simone. Her work has been produced by Peter Gabriel’s Real World record label.