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Somali singer-songwriter Sharma Boy will perform at First Avenue

Thursday June 30, 2022
By Jasmine Snow

The artist's concerts are a part of an annual Somali festival in Minnesota.  

Sharma Boy performed at Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis on June 25 and performs at First Avenue on Friday. PHOTO BY UCHE IROEGBU

Popular Somali musician Sharma Boy will perform Friday at First Avenue's Mainroom.

Sharma Boy — whose real name is Sharmarke Abdinasir Mohamed — is gearing up to play on Somali Republic Day, at 8 p.m. Friday. This comes after his first performance in Minneapolis last week at the University of Minnesota's Ted Mann Concert Hall.

"I'm very happy [to be here] and very content so far," he said via interpreters. "I just feel happiness inside of me. … I'm looking forward to it, especially with the fact that this next show is different than the last one that we've done."

Sharma Boy, 23, hopes his First Avenue show will draw an energetic crowd that will be able to really get into his music.

The dual concerts are part of a larger annual cultural festival put on by the West Bank Athletic Club, a Somali youth development organization and one of the main organizations that helped Sharma Boy secure a visa. WBAC founder and executive director Ahmed Ismail — better known as "Coach Ahmed" — said he is thrilled to bring Sharma Boy's "young energy" to the community, and happy to see other young people enthusiastic and inspired by the singer-songwriter.

"This is one of the best projects that I ever discovered," Coach Ahmed said. "I'm very excited and I'm very happy that I see the whole community love it and enjoy it."

A long time coming

Coach Ahmed and Adrienne Dorn, executive director of the interfaith nonprofit group GMCC, have been leading the effort to get a Somali artist in Minnesota for the WBAC festival for about four years. Once they decided on Sharma Boy, the trickiest part was securing his visa — a process that was so difficult they weren't sure they could book anything until about three weeks ago, Dorn said.

"It was a really involved process," Dorn said. "It's also just been really groundbreaking because it had to take funding from a grant and a nonprofit interest to basically make this happen. There's no for-profit promoter that's going to go through all of that because it's quite frankly not worked into the business model."

Sharma Boy was an easy choice because of his popularity, organizers said. He has almost 850,000 YouTube subscribers, has collaborated with Somali-Canadian artist K'naan and won best upcoming/local artist in the 2021 African Entertainment Awards USA.

During his time in Minneapolis, he has hosted local youth workshops. After his stay in Minnesota, he hopes to "take [his] success back to Africa" and eventually go on a world tour.

"I also wanted to tell the other Somalis that live in this city or this state or in this country in general that I love them," Sharma Boy said. "I only have love for all my people in America — one love."


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