Based in Oakland, California, Amina Shareef Ali performs songs of love and struggle. Poignant and revealing verse reminiscent of Leonard Cohen or Conor Oberst is set against a backdrop of American music both traditional and modern, from folk to punk to country to rock and roll.
Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Amina Shareef Ali studied music composition at Oberlin College and moved to the Bay Area in 2007. She has performed at such venues as SF’s Bottom Of The Hill, the Make Out Room and the Hotel Utah Saloon and Berkeley’s Starry Plough. Amina has released four records: The Once and Future Boyfriend (2010) and Holy Rock and Roll (2011) with her band, The Radical Folksonomy; and the solo albums How to End the War (2011) and A Place to Remember the Dead (2014), which received positive attention from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Examiner.com and several other music blogs.
Amina Shareef Ali has done several tours both solo and with a band, visiting Portland, Seattle, Tacoma, Eugene, Bellingham, St. Louis, Amsterdam, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Austin, Tucson, Los Angeles and many other cities. In 2017, Amina came out as a transgender woman.
There’s acoustic guitar; there are poetic and earnest turns of phrase about melancholy, joyful, and romantic feelings. But the underlying current is pure punk defiance — a melodic middle finger of sorts to anyone who might suggest that confessional songwriting means you have to be soft, to anyone made uncomfortable by rough-hewn, sacrificial-sounding love ballads, to an indie music landscape that offers little room for artists who don’t buy into ironic or detached as the road to cool.
A Place to Remember the Dead mixes heart-felt longing, unrequited love, and social commentary, all with a hint of mortality. Even the seemingly light-hearted tracks are rich with humour and emotion. And that weird chill you get from Shareef Ali can only mean one thing: It’s working.
– Christopher Millard, Examiner.com
His tunes are confessional and evocative, produced in a refreshing, rustic manner. On songs varying from beer soaked rockers to sad eyed ballads, Ali’s band backs him up with a road weary and bar/small venue tested comfort.
He comes across as his own creation, blending old-fashioned instrumentation and modern lyrics in a way that sets him apart from most young folk artists.
His lyrics are sometimes earnest, sometimes funny, sometimes downright poetic…Ali embraces life in all its strange, conflicting moments: pain and triumph, heartbreak and renewal, anger and resignation.
Gritty, hard earned lyrics created and crafted from raw and honest experience.
While I understand that folk music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea I really believe that if anyone can win people over to this beautiful music genre, it will be Shareef Ali.
Honest, endearing, well-arranged, and interesting – with a sound built to showcase Ali’s heartfelt songwriting but with enough dynamics and edge to keep even a casual listener engaged.
– MidByNorthwest.com, Seattle, WA
With their plaintive harmonies and barroom vibe, they’re reminiscent of a highly textured (and refreshingly non-cloying) Bright Eyes, or more rollicking version of The Rentals.
– Pete Kane, MSN
Thanks to the following radio stations for playing Shareef Ali:
107.7 The Bone, San Francisco (KSAN)
KUSF, San Francisco
Berkeley Liberation Radio
Pirate Cat / Mutiny Radio, San Francisco
Radio Valencia, San Francisco
Partial List of Venues Played
San Francisco, CA: Bottom of the Hill, Make Out Room, Hotel Utah Saloon
Oakland, CA: Totally Intense Fractal Mindgaze Hut, Mama Buzz Cafe
Berkeley, CA: Starry Plough
Pasadena, CA: Old Towne Pub
Portland, OR: Valentines, East End, Ash Street Saloon, the Waypost, Plew’s Brews, Ella Street Social Club
Eugene, OR: Wandering Goat, Cozmic Pizza, Tiny Tavern
Seattle, WA: Comet Tavern, Conor Byrne Pub, High Dive, Skylark Cafe, Cafe Venus & Mars Bar
Tacoma, WA: Mandolin Cafe
Bellingham, WA: Red Light, Honey Moon, the Swillery
Tucson, AZ: Sparkroot, Red Room at the Grill
New Orleans, LA: Neutral Ground Coffeehouse
Austin, TX: Hole in the Wall
Marfa, TX: Padres
Chicago, IL: Reggie’s, Elbo Room
St. Louis, MO: Foam, Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center
Cambridge, MA: Cantab Lounge
Baltimore, MD: Sidebar, Joe Squared
Brooklyn, NY: Legion Bar, Northeast Kingdom
Philadelphia, PA: Connie’s Ric Rac