Philadelphia, Oct. 11, 2016 - Intercultural Journeys kicks off its 2016/17 Season with Alsarah & The Nubatones. This is their Philadelphia debut.  The Brooklyn-based band is rooted in the Nubian "Songs of Return" from the 1960s and 70s, which became popular after the building of the Aswan Dam and subsequent flooding of the lower Nubian region forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.  The focus of many "Songs of Return" - both thematically and lyrically - is about a return to home and embodies a nostalgic longing for a place that no longer exists.

Led by singer Alsarah - a self-proclaimed practitioner of East African retro-pop - the group will perform songs from their internationally-acclaimed debut album Silt, and tracks from the recently released Manara (Wonder Wheel Recordings), including the single "Ya Watan (O Homeland)." “We are delighted to open our 2016/17 season with Alsarah and the Nubatones, who bring a fresh musical perspective to IJ,” said Intercultural Journeys Curator Alex Shaw. “As a Sudanese-born, Brooklyn-based ethnomusicologist and singer-songwriter, Alsarah offers an engaging artistic voice on migration and navigating different cultural spaces, sharing stories and songs that interpret a rich and complex cultural heritage through a contemporary East African sound.”

Intercultural Journeys will also host an installment of the popular Food for Thought series before the concert. Beginning at 5pm, audience members are invited to participate in a casual potluck and discussion led by a local scholar or community organizer. The guest speaker for this installment of Food for Thought is Dr. Alden Young, Director of Africana Studies and Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Drexel University. Food for Thought is free, but audience members are encouraged to RSVP on the Intercultural Journeys website –  

The concert will take place at 7pm in the Ibrahim Theater at International House. Tickets are $15 for General Admission, $10 for IHP members, and $8 for students. To purchase tickets, visit or call 215-387-5125, ext. 2.



Alsarah & The Nubatones: Ya Watan (O Homeland)

Sunday, November 6, 2016 - 7pm

Ibrahim Theater, International House (3701 Chestnut Street)

*Performance followed by discussion with the artists


About Alsarah

Alsarah is a Sudanese-born singer, songwriter and ethnomusicologist. Born in the capital city of Khartoum, where she spent the first 8 years of her life, she relocated to Taez, Yemen with her family to escape the ever stifling regime in her native country. She abruptly moved to the U.S. in 1994 when a brief civil war broke out in Yemen. Alsarah started her musical training at the age of 12. After attending the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter High School in Hadley, MA, she spent 4 years at Wesleyan University studying music with a concentration in ethnomusicology.

Residing in Brooklyn, N.Y., she is a self-proclaimed practitioner of East-African retro-pop. Working on various projects, she most recently has been working with the Nile Project and was featured on their debut release, Aswan (named one of the top five must hear international albums of 2013 by NPR). She has also collaborated with French producer Débruit on the album Aljwal, released in November 2013 via Soundway Recordings.  She toured the release in July 2014. She released her debut album, Silt, with her band Alsarah & The Nubatones in the spring of 2014 and recently released a follow-up, Manara, with Wonder Wheel Recordings.


About Alsarah & The Nubatones

Alsarah & The Nubatones were born out of many dinner conversations between Alsarah and Rami El Aasser about Nubian “Songs of Return,” modern migration patterns, and the cultural exchanges between Sudan and Egypt. A common love for the richness of pentatonic sounds, and shared migration experiences, expanded the conversation to include Armenian-American oud player Haig Manouki and French-born, Togo-raised bass player Mawuena Kodjovi. Under the leadership of Alsarah, the Brooklyn-based group’s sound grew into what they have dubbed as “East African Retro-Pop.”

In March of 2014 the group released their debut album, Silt, via WonderWheel Recordings to international acclaim and great reviews, with the single “Soukura (It’s Late)” debuting on Spin Magazine’s blog.  October of the same year saw the release of Silt Remixed featuring remixes by Bodhisattva, Nickodemus, Captain Planet, Chancha Via Circuito, and many others. It also went on to be selected by the prestigious Fact Magazine as one of the best remix albums of 2014.

Unfortunately that year also marked the passing of founding member Haig Manouki from this world into the next. Brandon Terzic, a brilliant oudist and former student of Haig Manouki, began playing with the band. Rounding out the band members is Nahid, a very talented and charismatic vocalist. The group recently released, Manara, their highly anticipated second album (also via WonderWheel recordings).

Since their first show in October of 2011, the group has performed nationally and internationally at many prestigious festivals and venues. With audiences varying in age and ethnicity, the Nubatones have proven and over that soul crosses all cultural and linguistic barriers.


About Intercultural Journeys

Intercultural Journeys uses the arts to promote peace and greater understanding between people of diverse backgrounds, faiths, and cultures with the aim of catalyzing social change and awareness. Intercultural Journeys was founded in 2002 by Philadelphia Orchestra cellist Udi Bar-David, philanthropist Carole Haas Gravagno, Majid Alsayegh and Sheldon L. Thompson. Together, they recognized the role that music could play in sparking dialogue between people of different backgrounds. Since then, Intercultural Journeys has held over 160 concerts and partnered with a diverse roster of local and international artists. IJ events have been held not only in the Greater Philadelphia area but also across the United States and even abroad in countries such as China, Spain, Italy and Israel. 


Media Contact

Lindsey S. Crane, Managing Director, 215-387-2310                                                        High-res images available upon request