Oumië sings from The Gambia

WITH a size of 4,127 square miles, The Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa. Located in the continent's western region, it boasts one of the motherland's most vibrant reggae markets.

Oumië, a Los Angeles-based singer, was born in The Gambia. It is where she got her first taste of Jamaican pop culture, listening to artistes such as Shabba Ranks, Buju Banton, Sean Paul, and Shaggy.

Last year she teamed with Jamaican deejay E-Dee on Bubble, a dancehall song that did well in Southern California. Her latest song is Excuse Me.

Although she moved with her family to Stockholm, Sweden, and later relocated to Los Angeles, Oumië maintains ties with her homeland which she says has a strong connection to reggae and the hottest sound in contemporary music.

"Gambia has been so supportive of my journey and I'm honoured to be in the music industry in this time when Afrobeats is so universal. I believe the movie Black Panther played a very important part in the shift of music culture through Wizkid, Davido, and Tiwa Savage, and so many more," she said.

Afrobeats is the successor to Afrobeat which originated in Nigeria during the early 1970s. In the 1980s, when world beat artistes from neighbouring Senegal like Youssou N'Dour emerged, reggae also took off in The Gambia. Over the years many reggae acts have performed there. They include Frankie Paul, Sizzla, Beres Hammond, Buju Banton, Macka B, Popcaan and Jahmiel.

This month, the Government-run Roots and Cultural Tours announced plans to host an annual Reggae Sunsplash Festival in The Gambia on May 11, the day Bob Marley died in 1981.

As for Oumië, the work continues.

"I look forward to see what 2023 will bring. I have a few projects that I look forward to sharing with my fans. Each song introduces my music to a new fan base — and Excuse Me has done that in particular," she said.

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

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