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Turunesh Wants to Push East African Women’s Freedom of Expression Through Music

Her music may be inspired by taarab and unyago traditions, but her styling and messaging is breaking new ground. Tanzanian artist, Turunesh, exudes passion in her singing and aims to represent a new generation of East African women, who are boldly sex-positive. Turunesh is empowered. As a leading voice within East Africa’s alternative music scene, she’s courageously forging a clear-cut path of taarab and unyago-inspired music to challenge traditional narratives of “African music.” Dubbed the “conjurer of worlds,” her music harkens back to taarab’s coastal roots, with Bi Kidude being one of her biggest musical influences. “I can only dream of emulating her essence. I call upon her spirit in hopes of writing sex-positive music.” She may not be a traditional taarab singer but to the curious ear, her heroines anoint her voice through inflections and melodic choice, even when she’s singing in English.