Creative Alliance aims to tackle anti-Muslim bias by featuring renowned female Muslim performers

Baltimore's Creative Alliance announced Wednesday that it will tackle anti-Muslim bias by bringing a half-dozen renowned female Muslim performers to Baltimore.

The "Nisa/Women" program — "Nisa" is the Arabic word for "women" — is funded by a $145,000 grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. The program will bring the six women here for at least three days to visit schools, participate in public conversations, collaborate with visiting artists and perform at the Creative Alliance in Highlandtown. The artists have roots in Muslim communities in North and East Africa, the Middle East and the U.S.


Margaret Footner, the Alliance's executive director, wrote in a news release that the program will "amplify the voices, leadership and vision of Muslim women artists and raise awareness of appreciation for their culture through art."

The Creative Alliance was one of 11 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive a grant through the Doris Duke Foundation's Building Bridges program, whose goal is "to advance relationships, increase understanding, and reduce bias between Muslim and non-Muslim communities."


So far, four artists have been confirmed. They are:

  • The Pakistani-born singer and musician Arooj Aftab. During her visit to Baltimore on Oct. 4-6, she will perform with a trio that includes a double bass and harp.
  • The Sudanese singer, songwriter and ethnomusicologist known only as Alsarah. She’ll appear in Baltimore Feb. 14-16, 2018 and will perform with her group, Alsarah &The Nubatones.
  • The comic and writer Zainab Johnson, whose humor frequently springs from her upbringing as one of 13 children raised Muslim in Harlem. She’ll be in Baltimore April 11-13.
  • Vocalist Aziza Brahim, a master of the desert blues associated with Africa’s western Sahara region. Brahim, who was raised in refugee camps, is scheduled to travel to Baltimore some time in October, 2018.

The other two Muslim female artists will be selected at a future date.