Mor Karbasi
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Mor Karbasi

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"Karbasi’s wonderful voice – a truly expressive, electrifying instrument with a huge but superbly controlled range of tones, decorations and expression..." (Ian Anderson-Froots)

"Dezile a mi amor" chosen for Froots Playlist

more to come.... - Froots


“Spine tingling Gypsy Music… Exploring an ancient musical songline that starts in medieval Spain and carries through to North Africa, Southern Europe and Israel… She breathed new life into an old language… The songs have a timeless feel” (Lawrence Joffe, Jewish Chronicle, UK)

“One of the great young divas of the global music scene… This is surely one of the albums of the year” (Robin Denselow, The Guardian, UK)

“Fantastic” (Lucy Duran, BBC Radio 3, UK)

“An intriguing discovery… mesmerising debut album… one of the world music hits of 2008… an incredibly flexible voice… astonishing… everything about this album murmurs quality, attention to detail” (Ian Anderson, fRoots, UK)

“Mor’s voice fills the room. It’s got a range and fluid flexibility… It’s rich and warm with a finely delivered emotional intensity. The Beauty and the Sea is a remarkable debut.” (Elizabeth Kinder, fRoots, UK)

“Mor Karbasi’s debut CD is in a different league of invention confidence and sensuality. She tours the UK during the Spring and her wide ranging repertoire is certainly worth catching live. Highly Recommended.” (Dennis Marks, Songlines, UK)

“Young, female and dramatic looking with a powerful voice and with roots in a rich and ancient tradition, Sephardic, Jewish, Israeli singer Mor Karbasi ticks all the boxes for world music success!” (Mark Hudson, Daily Telegraph, UK)

“Her songs are like a journey through her roots… traditional and modern at the same time, sincere, heartfelt and touching” (soas.co.uk)

“With a voice infused by Middle Eastern music and the quivering intensity of Iberian flamenco and fado” (Jon Pareles, NY Times, USA)

“If the sound of young London-based Israeli singer Mor Karbasi doesn’t make your pulse race, make an appointment with your cardiologist immediately — not since the late Ofra Haza has a voice soared so sweetly in music of the Jewish diaspora” (The New Yorker, USA)
- Songlines, Guardian, BBC UK, Froots, Daily Telegraph, NY Times, The New Yorker


Discography

“La Hija de la Primavera” (Daughter of the Spring) (2011) -
Harmonia Mundi / Proper music
“The Beauty and the Sea” (2008) -
Harmonia Mundi / Proper

Photos

Bio

“Dramatic Diva with a Haunting Voice and Stunning Stage Presence”

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 gorgeous, exceptional voice and looks to match. She was born April 23, 1986 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, though mainly by her Jewish heritage. A child with parents like hers no doubt carries a great deal of cultural richness. As already mentioned, with Jewish influences, but also Persian, Moroccan, Spanish and of course Israeli. All of which is discernable in her outward appearance, but also in her lovely, effervescent music and many stories. Mor’s biography might very well read like a novel by Isabel Allende where history, magic, joy and hard reality are all interwoven. A story that is told by her music, in which you are taken on a journey around the Mediterranean, to Morocco and her native Israel, to an age and civilization that is long gone, and yet still in the here and now. Mor’s first album Beauty and the Sea 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. Karbasi has already performed in several countries: Italy, Great Britain, Portugal, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Sweden, Holland and Morocco as well as the United States, always to great popular acclaim.

Roots

All her influences come together in her predominately Sephardic Jewish repertoire: from traditional Jewish songs, to her own contemporary compositions. Jews were forced to leave Spain in the 15th century, as a result of the Catholic unification of the two main Spanish Kingdoms, and defeat and expulsion of the Moors. They spread out all over the world, taking the Spanish language of the time, and continued to speak it in their closed communities. This interspersed with some Hebrew, and words of various Mediterranean languages created a Judeo-Spanish tongue called Ladino. This language has almost died out… yet Mor sings for a wide audience in Ladino, Hebrew and Spanish. She says “to me Ladino is the most beautiful, melodic and magical language I can imagine. I hope to bring its richness to many people. I feel it is my mission to convey the power of those 500 year old melodies and lyrics. Ladino is a language full of vitality – and as far as I’m concerned – It is a perfect vehicle to express every aspect of being a woman.”

Karbasi was exposed to music at an early age, by her mother. She would sing Moroccan piyuttim (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. Mor’s great grandmother was a ‘mekonenet’, a woman chosen by the congregation to sing laments to mourn the dead during funeral ceremonies, and her great grandfather was known in Morocco as prominent rabbi, a very wise man, with a great knowledge of the Torah and of the Kabbalah. He blessed and helped many people in his day. “We always joke in the family of how I am as if the son my grandfather never had. I was the only one who took interest in piyuttim, his Moroccan heritage”. He is still alive and is enormously proud of his granddaughter. “He too is one of my greatest sources of inspiration: he hums all day long – ever since I can remember – old poems and melodies. I always sang duets with my granddad, and the bond connecting the generations grew ever stronger. The moment I started singing Piyuttim and exploring more and more of the Sephardi repertoire, everything fell into place – my love for and deep connection with the Jewish faith and my love for Spain and Morocco. I feel a profound connection to my roots.” In Mor’s music you can hear the unmistakable influences of both flamenco and fado. Musical influences included such great talents as Um Kulthum, Amalia Rodrigues, Madredeus, and Mercedes Sosa.

Mor started writing her own material, in the spirit of the Sephardi repertoire in order to revive it and as a way to search for her own voice. The catalyst for this creative process was a chance meeting with a special young guitarist called Joe Taylor, in a small town where the desert meets the red sea – Dahab in the Sinai. About meeting Joe she says: “I was walking along by the sea one evening when suddenly I heard the sound of a guitar. This was quite unusual in a place like Dahab