nimco yasin
Yasin is performing at the Paramount Center for the Arts on Saturday, April 15, as part of a residency through the Cedar Cultural Center. In the spirit of Midnimo, the name of her residency which means united in Somali, tickets to the show are free for students with an ID. Wochit

By Stephanie Dickrell

While hair metal was king on the U.S. music scene, Nimco Yasin was performing around the world with some of Somalia’s most talented singers and dancers.

Thirty years and a civil war later, Yasin’s legacy lives on in the Somali diaspora, a displaced population living around the world as refugees and immigrants.

Yasin is performing at the Paramount Center for the Arts on Saturday as part of a residency through the Cedar Cultural Center. In the spirit of Midnimo, the name of her residency which means united in Somali, tickets to the show are free for students with an ID.

In the 1980s, she was part of the Waaberi group, translated as “dawn players.” Sponsored by the Somali government, the group traveled the world and claimed more than 300 members over its 30-year history. As the political situation in Somalia grew more unstable, Yasin and many other artists fled Somalia. Yasin landed in the United Kingdom in 1989. Other musicians weren’t so lucky. Some were arrested or killed as the Somali government collapsed, plunging the country into civil war.

At that time, it would still be a decade before the 2017 graduating class at Apollo High School was born. But as demonstrated by a long line of students waiting to take a photo with her, she’s still well known, said language arts teacher Vanessa VanLaanen.

“If they didn’t recognize her by her name alone, they recognized her music right away — almost all of them. Or they were like, ‘I think my mom listens to that,’ ” VanLaanen said, if they were Somali. “If they weren’t, they had no idea who she was but they were really excited that she was coming.”

She said she hopes her students take advantage of the free tickets and bring their families to the show Saturday.

Yasin met with students performing in Apollo’s culture show on May 5. Some performed for her, including a dance group that’s using some of Yasin’s music. Through local Somali musician Dalmar Yare as interpreter, Yasin said she really enjoyed the performances and many were very talented.

“So far, it’s been my favorite day,” she said, of the residency.

That’s saying something. Yasin has been in Mankato and all around St. Cloud as part of the residency for more than three weeks. In St. Cloud, she’s met with St. Cloud State University students and with students at two Boys & Girls Clubs locations.

On Friday, she visits Hands Across the World, a program that helps refugees and other immigrants learn English and other skills.

Yasin’s visit was a unique opportunity for Somali teens.

READ MORE: Somali Singer Nimco Yasin Shares Talent with Central Minnesota

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