Mohammed el Amin
Mohammed el Amin is a Sudanese folk-hero for his majestic voice and superb oud playing, and the near-blind, reclusive old revolutionary is also a brilliant composer and arranger. Never a prolific writer, his work is concentrated and even his rearrangements of old songs sound fresh. I forgot the irritating half-assed reggae of lesser bands the night Mohammed el Amin conjured up a playful dub fade-out of one epic song with just a violinist (Mohamediya), bass player and tablas. Born in Wad Medani, central Sudan, in 1943, he began learning the oud at the age of 11, taught by the well-known professor Mohammed Fadl. He wrote his first compositions aged 20, and went on to become honorary president of the Sudanese Artists' and Composers' Society. Frequently in trouble for provoking one military dictatorship - he was jailed by Nimeiri's regime in the 1970s - he moved to Cairo after 1989 to avoid similar run-ins with the National Islamic Front, but returned to Khartoum in 1994 and kept a low profile.