She sings like no other. Sadness, joy, longing, mournfulness, all contained in a voice so powerful yet so contained. How can one voice hold all these emotions?
“A person must know his song, the song of his life, and sing it loud and clear, until it flows as sweet water does out of a spring. This song is a tapestry of life experiences: the people we meet and the messages we exchange, our roots etc… You cannot know and sing your own song unless you sing the songs of others first”
Mor Karbasi burst onto the global world music scene in 2008 with the release of her first album, and has continued to capture audiences internationally with her exceptional talent, a result of her stunning voice and her impressive stage presence. Mor’s first album ‘The Beauty and the Sea’ (produced by Grammy award-winning producer Matt Howe and by multi-instrumentalist Joe Taylor) received rave reviews: she was immediately ranked alongside such globally renowned singers as Mariza and Estrella Morente – a splendid comparison, but one that does not describe her unique style of singing and compositions that breathe new life into an ancient language. Her second album, ‘Daughter of the Spring,’ established her as an up and coming diva on the world music scene, and led to extensive touring: Karbasi has already performed in several countries: Italy, Great Britain, Israel, Portugal, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Sweden, Holland and Morocco as well as the United States, always to great popular acclaim.
״Her third album ‘La Tsadika’ is a touching exploration of her Moroccan roots on her mother’s side. Her passionate interpretation of traditional Sephardic Moroccan melodies and melodies of her own creation, combined with the musical direction of Tom Cohen and such collaborations as Itamar Doari, Mark Eliyahu, Salvador Guitierrez and of course Joe Taylor, have resulted in a unique and heartfelt album, channeling both the emotions Mor seeks to convey as well as the history of the women whose stories she tells.״
“The first sound to ever enfold me was that of my mother”
Mor karbasi was born and raised in Jerusalem to a mother of Moroccan origins and a father of Persian ancestry. The first melody Mor ever sang was as a baby at the age of 7 months, when her mother secretly heard her humming a lullaby that she herself used to sing for her. This experience is closer than ever to Mor today, as she recently became the next generation in a long line of mothers singing to their daughters.
“Singing was always my way to express my emotions. I always feel things so strongly that I need an outlet and my intention is always, in every note, to express emotions as they come to me. I have never been good at hiding how I feel anyway. It seems like I have no other choice but to sing.’
Mor is a young woman whose music is influenced by several cultures, though mainly by her Jewish heritage.
‘My grandfather, shalom, is a great inspiration to me. Ever since I can remember, he would always hum melodies that, as a child, at first sounded unfamiliar to me, yet so familiar all at once. Whenever we went to visit my grandparents in Nazareth, my eyes and ears would follow him as he restlessly walked through the house at night humming beautiful melodies, haunting melodies, opening the windows and singing to an unknown listener.
It was only later in life that I learned that he was singing pyiutim, which I later went on to study myself. This led me to realize that the unknown listener from my childhood was in fact his homeland of Morocco, which he had never left in his heart. He was singing to his deceased ancestors, important rabbies of morocco, and calling for their guidance and protection.’ It is no wonder Mor has felt the urge to dedicate an entire album to her grandfather’s lineage.
Mor feels very close to her Sephardic roots. The Jews were forced to leave Spain in the 15th century as a result of the unification of the two main Catholic Spanish kingdoms and the defeat and expulsion of the Moors. The Jews that left Spain spread out into a far-reaching Diaspora, taking with them the Spanish language of the time, and continued to speak it in their closed communities. Interspersed with some Hebrew and the various Mediterranean languages of the countries where they settled, this led to the creation of a Judeo-Spanish tongue called Ladino.
‘I have always felt such a strong unexplainable connection to Spain and its language, and at the same time to my Moroccan and Jewish ancestry. Ladino, the ancient language of the Jews that were forced to flee Spain in the 15th century simply unifies and has aspects of all these loved elements.’ Indeed, Mor’s influences come together in her predominately Sephardic Jewish repertoire: from traditional Jewish songs, to her own contemporary compositions.
‘All of these were sung by mothers to their children for generations and this is how they survived. It makes me understand that I am part of a very long lineage of beautiful, powerful women. It makes me feel there is no limit to what I can express and bring to my music and listeners.’
Ojos de Novia (Eyes of a bride, 2016)
The latest and 4th album of the Jerusalem born singer is a triumphant and confident step, delving into the world of North Africa, not only to the Jewish-Sephardic world of the Maghreb, but also of the Berber. This approach was initiated on her last album ‘La Tsadika’, and once again she inventively brings a distant world to new life, with many new compositions, featuring some stellar musicians who were not to be expected in a traditional context of Sephardic music.
The album begins with two North African songs, “Bismillah” and “Hayken Juar”, and then proceeds with the Hebrew song “Ahuvati Ester”.
Only a few songs are presented in Ladino, and the music exceeds the world of the Sephardim: Even the theme song “Ojos de Novia” drives a whipping Berber rhythm forward.
As for the album line-up, besides the sonic tapestry created by Mor herself, Joe Taylor and members of her touring band, the album features star appearances from Richard Bona, The Tomatito-Family and Kai Eckardt.
“I am the conclusion of all my identities. identities i was born with, and ones that i have adopted on my path.” she laughs…