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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Sept. 17-22: International Somali Artist Aar Manta

Somali artist Aar Maanta and his band, the Urban Nomads, will appear in Mankato for a week-long residency.

2018-09-25
Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Music News Release, 8-16-2018

MANKATO, Minn. – The Minnesota State University, Mankato Performance Series offers the opportunity for local students and community members to interact with international Somali artist Aar Maanta (pictured) and his band, the Urban Nomads, who will appear in Mankato during a week-long residency from Sept. 17-22.

The project is supported by the Building Bridges: Arts, Culture and Identity program with funding from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. The program serves as a unique medium for the funders to support mission-critical projects that demonstrate the power of the arts to strengthen communities and increase intercultural understanding across America.

Aar Maanta’s visit to Mankato is supported by a consortium consisting of the Minnesota State Mankato Performance Series, the Cedar Cultural Center (Minneapolis) and the Paramount Center for the Arts (St. Cloud). The consortium, along with four other individual arts organizations in the United States, received funding to build knowledge and appreciation for arts and culture with roots in Muslim-majority societies. The project name for the Minnesota consortium is Midnimo, Somali for “unity.”

Aar Maanta was scheduled to perform a week-long residency in Mankato in fall 2017. He was subject to a high-profile visa delay, leading to the cancellation of residency events just a week before he and his band were set to land in Minnesota. A second visa delay took place in February 2018, resulting in a second residency cancellation. Aar Maanta finally received a year-long visa in April 2018.

Aar Maanta will be involved with various residency activities while in Mankato. The artist will visit Mankato East and West high schools and Bridges Community School to lead activities with students at those schools. In addition, he will visit multiple Minnesota State Mankato classrooms in the art, English, music and history areas. This interaction with college students will tie directly into the curricula of their courses to gain an understanding and appreciation of diverse peoples and diverse perspectives. The residency week ends with a public performance by Aar Maanta and the Urban Nomads at the Kato Ballroom, 200 Chestnut Street, on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m.

"The Midnimo program creates many opportunities for both campus and community members to build meaningful relationships with our Muslim neighbors," said Dale Haefner, Performance Series director at Minnesota State Mankato. “Music is an excellent means of communication, a universal language and a common feature of the human experience.”

As an artist with a mission, Aar Maanta has prioritized education and mentorship of young people through workshops and music-focused educational programs throughout his career.

As a singer and songwriter, Aar Maanta has embraced an eclectic mix of styles including influences from rock and reggae blended with traditional Arabic and Somali music. His music can be characterized as a merge of traditional Somali music with Western influences into a fusion described as Afro-Hop.

Aar Maanta’s humanitarian efforts in North Africa refugee camps led him to become a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR). His work includes the recent UNHCR campaign about irregular youth migration in the Horn of Africa. The UNHCR produced the video, “Dangerous Crossings,” featuring his song “Tahriib” in collaboration with five leading vocal artists from Africa.

Aar Maanta’s United States tour will launch this September with an appearance at the Cedar Cultural Center’s Global Roots Festival in Minneapolis, the Mankato residency, an appearance at the Lotus World Music Festival (Bloomington, Ind.), followed by residency activities in Minneapolis and St. Cloud.

For more information on Mankato residency events, contact the Performance Series Office at 507-389-5549 or email dale.haefner@mnsu.edu.

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