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 exquisite voice and looks to match. She was born in Jerusalem, to a mother from Nazareth of Moroccan descent and a father from Jerusalem of Persian (Iranian) ancestry. Mor is a young woman whose music is influenced by several cultures, not least her Jewish heritage – this rich blend of influences is discernable in her effervescent music and the many interweaving stories that directly stem from it.
Her gripping tale is told by her music, in which her audience is taken on a journey around the Mediterranean, to an age and civilization that has long since vanished, yet still exists in Mor’s voice. Her first album The Beauty and the Sea’ (produced by Grammy award-winning producer Matt Howe and guitarist Joe Taylor) received rave reviews. The album was recorded during time living in London, and featured a collection of exquisite musicians from around the world including percussionist Trilok Gurtu, bassist Kai Eckhardt, and Ronu Majumdar on Indian flute. She was immediately ranked alongside such globally renowned singers as Mariza and Estrella Morente – A splendid comparison, but one that does not accurately describe her unique style of singing and compositions that breathe new life into ancient languages (Ladino, Hebrew, Moroccan Arabic, Tashlihit). Mor has performed worldwide, including Italy, Great Britain, Portugal, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Turkey and Morocco as well as the United States and South America. Her live performance and recorded work has been highly acclaimed by press from around the world, and gained her many dedicated fans and followers.
Her Sephardic background is the starting point from which she embarks on a journey, vocally and musically creating her own style and unique sound – where her compositions stand alongside traditional melodies, which are embraced and lifted to new heights.
The Judeo-Spanish tongue called Ladino, which features in some of Mor’s songs, has similarities to modern Spanish, and a fascinating history. The Jews were forced to leave Spain in the 15th century, after the unification of the two main Catholic Spanish kingdoms and the defeat of the Moors in Andalucia (Al-Andalus). Popular research sees this event as the end of a golden age for Jewish culture – they had contributed greatly to artistic, educational, and cultural enlightenment under the Islamic kingdom in Spain. Most of the Jews left, and spread out into a far-reaching Diaspora. They took with them the Spanish language of the time, and continued to speak it in their closed communities, interlaced with some words in Hebrew and various other languages of the countries where they settled, all around the Mediterranean. Communities speaking Ladino today are in decline, but were once especially notable in Morocco, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria.
Karbasi was exposed to music at an early age, by her Moroccan grandfather Shalom, who would constantly hum melodies from a far away world, yet so close- his beloved Morocco, and by her mother who would sing to her Moroccan Piyutim (Jewish holy poems written in Hebrew, composed to Arabian scales and melodies) and Jewish ballads from Andalusia as lullabies. Mor was literally fed these magical songs and melodies with her mother’s milk, in keeping with the centuries old tradition of orally transmitting these songs from mother to daughter. Her mother Shoshana remains a constant source of inspiration for her to this day, and contributes her stories and poems to the albums.
Her third album ‘La Tsadika’ is a touching exploration of her Moroccan roots on her mother’s side, and was inspired by a time spent living in Seville, Spain. Her passionate interpretation of traditional Sephardic Moroccan melodies and melodies of her own creation, combined with the musical direction and creative input of guitarist and producer Joe Taylor (also co-producer of her other albums), string arrangements by Tom Cohen, and collaborations such as percussionist Itamar Doari, Mark Eliyahu on Kemanche, and flamenco guitarist Salvador Gutierrez, have resulted in her most complete work to date, channeling both the emotions she seeks to convey, as well as the history of the women whose stories she tells.
Her Last album Saat Arahman was just released and is receiving much critical acclaim!
Mor has 5 albums released worldwide:
The Beauty and the Sea (2008, Alama Records, Mintaka)
Daughter of the Spring (2011, Alama Records, Harmonia Mundi)
La Tsadika (2014, Alama Records, Gibraltar Productions)
Ojos de Novia (2016, Alama Records, Galileo)
Saat Arahman (2023, Alama Records, Galileo)