Published on March 20th, 2023 | by MuzikScribe


Maimouna Youssef a.k.a. Mumu Fresh: Welcome To The MUniverse


Let’s hop right into this latest single, “FIND MY WAY BACK”— Tell me about this particular track; how did it come to fruition?

This track was produced by Vidal Davis, and recorded at DJ Jazzy Jeff’s studio. We completed the full album but we felt like there was a vibe missing, so when Vidal threw this track on I knew this was it. This is what was missing. I wanted to write an anthem for everybody in their comeback stage. I wanted to write something that would hype up that girl in the mirror, who needs a little extra encouragement to get back on her game. I want her to dance in the mirror and talk her stuff. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of who we are, what we’ve overcome and what we’re capable of.

Of course “FIND MY WAY BACK ” comes courtesy of your forthcoming 4th studio LP, A Healing — Conceptually, what does this title represent both to and for you?

I chose the title of “A healing,” because “healing” is the theme of the album. Each song speaks to personal development in a different way. It’s really about healing our inner child, renewing our spirits, and releasing self-limiting beliefs. No matter where you are in your life, we ALL could use a little healing.

How then does A Healing either differ and / or compare to previous MUMU FRESH entries?

The biggest difference is that this album was a collaborative effort between myself and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s Playlists’ producers and songwriters. Some of my co-writers and producers include Carvin Haggins, Eric Roberson, Masego, Muhsinah, Kenny Dope, Terry Hunter, Tec Beatz, Daniel Crawford and 14KT, among others. The writing process was also different. Normally I write by myself in the studio, but during these writing sessions we sat and had conversations for days, and those conversations turned into songs. Also, I got a chance to experiment with different genres such as House music, which in the past I had little experience with. I also loved having the opportunity to learn new writing techniques from collaborating with more seasoned writers.

A Healing is a SPARTA / Music Matters Entertainment release — What particular string of events actually led to this signing?

I was introduced to Music Matters through Vidal Davis, and it’s been a great experience working with them ever since.

As a songwriter, when you sit down to pen your lyrics where do you draw your inspiration from?

I draw my inspiration from life itself; from my personal trials and triumphs, my family and my community, and my empathy for the world at large. A lot of my songs are about my own healing, and it’s an added blessing that it also heals others.

Reflecting, tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for MAIMOUNA YOUSSEF?

It feels like I’ve been singing my whole life. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing. I’m a third generation singer and sound healer, so music was taken VERY seriously in my household. I’ve always been very introverted, so before I considered doing music as a career music was just a way for me to soothe my own sadness, celebrate my own quiet joy and make sense of the world around me. Later on in life, music became a means of survival. I started my professional career gigging on the open mic scene in Baltimore and DC when I was about 13 years old. I got my first big break when I won the title of “Baltimore’s Idol.” I received a lot of publicity from local television and radio stations, and an opportunity to compete on the national level on American Idol. I passed two rounds, but in the third round I was sent home, and was reassured that If they ever had an “Ethnic Idol” they’d be sure to let me know. Lol. It was the first time I realized that my path to success was going to have to be unconventional, because I was not the typical, white-adjacent, cookie cutter representation that the mainstream was looking for. I was socially conscious and culturally rooted with a deep sense of self, and that was apparent in how I showed up in the world. Normally, that kind of rejection may make a young person second-guess themselves, but, honestly, for me it just inspired me to accept my uniqueness even more, and hustle harder to succeed on my own terms—within one year, I released my first independent album entitled Subversive Activity.

Now you’re a native of Baltimore, MD, by way of Philadelphia, PA, correct? So growing up in ‘The City of Brotherly Love’ who all did / do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?

I didn’t grow up in Philly, I grew up in Baltimore, DC and Virginia. I moved to Philly when I turned 18 to pursue music. However, as a child I was still heavily influenced by the sounds of Philly; artists like Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild and The Roots stayed on rotation at home and at my cousins’ house. We admired that live band Soul sound.

In having said that, how do you classify your overall sound and / or style?

I classify my sound and style as healing music. I utilize the musical lineage of my ancestors to tell riveting stories. My style reflects the traditions of black music, so whether I’m using Hip Hop, Soul, Blues, Jazz, African or indigenous music, I’m approaching it from a perspective of sonic healing and cultural enrichment.

Where does your moniker originally derive from?

The name Mumu Fresh was born while on tour with The Roots as a teen.

What do you feel has and will continue to be the key to your longevity?

The key to my longevity is my ‘against all odds’ mentality. What has kept me on my path has been my, one, relentlessness; my creative well is never empty because I keep refilling it from my spiritual practice and personal development work. I am relentless in my pursuit of greatness. Two, consistency; I just keep showing up even  when I don’t feel like it. I am consistent with my output. I just keep hitting them over the head with the greatness. My grandmother told me that the constant dripping of water shall wear away any stone. Three, flexibility; don’t be afraid to try something new when what you’ve been doing isn’t working anymore. Seek guidance when you don’t know. Be willing to grow in new ways. Four, adaptability; learn new skills, challenge yourself in new ways and don’t become a slave to any of your former self identities. You are who you are, not what you’re doing at this current time in your life. Growth is a necessary part of life. You will live many lives before you transition out of physical form. Embrace that! Five, perspective; life is not about what’s happening to you as much as it’s about how you are perceiving what’s happening to you, and how you are carrying the weight of your perspective. Six, purpose; you have to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. I feel a deep sense of purpose when I am sharing my music because I can see the impact in real time. My fans and supporters often tell me how necessary I am, and I receive that and use that as motivation to keep pushing when times get hard. There are so many young women who never get to see their reflection in the career paths they choose to pursue. I don’t see many women like myself represented in my field, and so I feel the responsibility to be a positive reflection and role model and to open the door for another artist following in my footsteps. I have accomplished a lot against incredible odds, and I’m still shining. Seven, prayer; this one is last, but certainly not least. Nothing moves until the spirit says so. Prayer is where you get your marching orders from, and without it you are just stammering in the dark with no grounding, guidance or sense of direction. Okay, that’s all I can give you for now…I’m saving the rest for my book!. 🙂

What do you want people to get from your music?

I want people to be healed, to be restored, comforted, educated, validated and celebrated. I want this to be the soundtrack that people can live to, love to and grow through.

Switching gears here…

On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of music?

Am I happy with mainstream music or music generally? The state of music in general globally is awesome. The state of music that receives mainstream support is not dope to me, but I don’t waste time feeling sad about it anymore. I just observe it, then go back to making the dope music I like to make. There is dope music being created all the time, but it’s just not promoted by mainstream media. But, hey, their loss.

Do you have any other outside / additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?

Yes, I have aspirations to act, direct, write books, write screenplays, open an arts school and a healing arts retreat center.

To date, what has been your greatest career moment(s), at least thus far anyway?

It’s hard to pick just one because there’s been so many…but I’d have to say it’s a tie between performing on Tiny Desk (NPR) twice and The Black Girls Rock! Awards, and maybe traveling throughout Central America on an anti femicide campaign.

What’s an average day like for you?

An average day for me is filled with the hustle and bustle of being an independent artist, a wife, a mom and a daughter at the same time. I’m a very ambitious person, so I tend to take on a lot. Just this week alone, I am toggling between studio sessions, promoting my album online, teaching sound healing, scoring a musical and making sure my son gets to all of his extra-curricular activities. Then I still have to find time to cook dinner. That’s just THIS week!

Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans…

I really appreciate the support of my fan base, the love from around the globe is immense and humbling. I make sure to take time out for them, because I care about them and the impact my music has on their lives. I care about their stories. I listen to their feedback and apply it. I even help fans with marriage proposals, anniversaries and birthdays, by making custom videos for them and their loved ones. There was a time I was contemplating whether I wanted to continue doing music or not. I flew to London for a gig, and that night my fans poured so much love into me. They shared their stories with me and we sang all night together. I was so tired walking into the venue and so invigorated walking out. They gave me the push I needed to keep going. I LOVE the MUniverse and I have the best fans in the world.

What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? And, why?

I love being my own boss, making my own schedule, and rising as high as my ambitions will allow me. I love the competitive nature of Hip Hop. I love being able to travel for work. I appreciate that music takes me places that normally people who come from where I come from would not have access to. I love having an impact on the world, and I love being able to use the gift God gave me to positively affect people’s lives. My least favorite part is having to deal with the way women are treated in the industry, especially when they choose to NOT be sexualized. I greatly dislike the ‘lack mentality’ that a lot of players in the industry hold. They believe that if they allow someone else to shine, there won’t be enough light left for them; when in actuality, light attracts light and creates more light. There really is no lack except in your perception.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

I would say this road is not for the faint of heart. I would tell them to educate themselves in the business before they ever get involved. Be clear about your WHY. I would tell them to seek mentorship and to build a team. Because a good team, with a good strategy and good funding, can be the key to your success. Also, be prepared to work hard for what you want, keep a positive outlook, guard your mental health and stay away from drugs.

Lastly, what’s next for MUMU FRESH?

I’m currently releasing my fourth solo album, and recording my fifth. I’m writing my book, and I’m scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Washington Area Music Awards, a.k.a. The Wammies. I’m also filming a documentary about my life called “Art Afterbirth.” It tells the story of my journey through music and motherhood, and my company, MUnivesity Studies, is partnering with an organization called MRI in Baltimore to launch an independent music business conference in October of 2023.

Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention?

Follow me on all platforms, and download my music:


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