Oum is maybe not what what you would expect from a singer specializing in traditional Moroccan music: a trained architect who grew up listening to jazz with her parents at home and chanson française and hip hop on satellite radio. 

"I never had the idea to be a singer at the beginning but, finally, music took me," she said.

"As a teenager, I listened to American music coming through the satellites, I was listening to hip hop. And then I got interested in gospel and soul and then to African music and discovering who I am really and discover what they call world music now."

Oum is in Montreal for the first time with her full band including saxophone, electric guitar, bass, drums.

She writes and performs all vocals and plays the qarqab, a kind of traditional Moroccan castanets.

She'll be performing the songs on her brand new album, Soul of Morocco, Friday night at Le National. 

"Soul as I feel it, as I want to express it," she said. 

"This is not a soul music album, this is a kind of Moroccan spirit with many kinds of music and feelings. I wanted to express the diversity of my culture because in Morocco we have African roots and flavours and Arab flavours and Berber flavours and Mediterranean as well.

"I wanted to express all these flavours in one album and make it travel and to say hello to the world because usually people think Moroccan music can be Oriental but we are not an Oriental country. In the whole Arab world we are probably the most Occidental, even geographically. So it's just to bring another idea of who we are, who I am."