Today, while driving to the Garret Mt. campus, I was introduced to the incredibly beautiful voice of "Morocco's jazz jewel", Malika Zarra, on NPR's Soundcheck. According to CNN, Zarra, who sings in Berber, Moroccan, French and English, "is redefining the term fusion and is adding her own unique sound to the world" (MalikaZarra.com).
"Malika was born in Southern Morocco, in a little village called Ouled Teima. Her father's family was originally from Tata, a city on the Sahara plain, while her mother was a Berber from the High Atlas. During her early childhood, there was always music and dancing in the house. After her family emigrated to a suburb of Paris, she found herself straddling two very different societies. I had to be French at school yet retain my Moroccan cultural heritage at home, she recalls, Like many immigrant children, I learned to switch quickly between the two. It was hard but brought me a lot of good things too."
Zarra was influenced by musicians such as fellow Moroccan Hajja Hamdaouia, Rais Mohand, the Lebanese-born, Egyptian-based ud virtuoso/composer Farid el Atrache, Um Kalthoum and Algerian singer Warda (Al-Jazairia), as well as American musicians, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby McFerrin, Thelonious Monk, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin.
To hear Zarra's new CD, Berber Taxi, go to http://www.malikazarra.com/ Malika Zarra also has a FaceBook page at http://www.facebook.com/MalikaZarra View a You Tube video of a recent performance below.