Amal Murkus is a Palestinian singer and actress. A citizen of Israel, she was born and raised in the village of Kufer Yasef in the Galilee, and has devoted her career to promoting Palestinian music and culture in Israel and abroad.
Amal’s music is pioneering, creating a post-modern music style in which different Mediterranean influences meet. Her first album “Amal” was released in 1998, and her second, “Shauq” in 2004. Her songs, which take inspiration from Palestinian folklore and traditional Arabic heritage, mingled with pop music elements, express her struggle against the marginalization and exclusion that Arab Palestinian culture faces.
Her first album, self-entitled “Amal” was written and composed by a diverse group of artists and musicians. It was released internationally in 2000 by EMI Hemisphere. Her second album “Shauq” (“Longing”) was recorded live in April 2004, at the Crown Hall in Jerusalem, with the Jerusalem symphonic orchestra.
Amal’s latest album, “Na’ na’ ya Na’ na'” is a bouquet of traditional Palestinian folk songs gathered from the Galilee, the mid-land triangle and the negev, from the distant past and the present, that have survived wars, catastrophes, and major social upheavals. These are songs of struggle and harvest, marriage and birth, songs of joyful women, wanderers and parting couples, that remain forever young.
Amal is a member of the counseling board of FreeMuse, an organization against censorship of art and music. She took an active part in its congress in Denmark in 2003. Amal is currently studying art as a tool for social change in Musrara College in Jerusalem.
Amal has been performing since the age of 5. In 1979 she won first prize in the national Arab children’s song festival, and went on to graduate from the Institute for Stage Art in Tel-Aviv in 1990. An accomplished actress, Amal appears regularly on TV in various educational and cultural programs. Amal has also appeared in feature films and was nominated for the Israeli Oscar for her performance in Ali Nasar’s movie “The Milky Way”. In 2003 Amal won Best Actress in the Haifa Theatre Festival.
Amal also regularly appears on radio, and her cultural program can currently be heard every Friday on Radio ASHAMS 98.1-101FM, from 11.00 – 1.00 (Jerusalem time).
Amal’s extensive vocal range and abilities enable her to sing in a wide variety of genres, ranging from traditional Arab roots to modern popular western styles. As a result, she has created some remarkable collaborations with other artists and international musicians, including Joan Baez in an anti-war concert that took place in Tel-aviv 1988; Marcedes Sosa; Oliver Shante, Germany; Stadio, Italy; the Greek singer Glykeria; Noa; Anwar Ebrahem from Tunisia, Enzo Avetable of Italy; Nani Cayemi in Brazil; Robert White in the UK and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Liverpool (UK) in 2005, and many others. Amal has also completed projects with the Palestinian poets Mahmod Darwesh Nazarth in 2000, Kufer Yasef in 1999, and Sameh Alkasem in 2006.
Amal has received many commendations for her unique art and music and for her work with local communities. In 2001 Amal was chosen by Austrian TV as one of the most beautiful voices of the 20th century, after taking part in a music film produced by the ARTE TV “Premadonas Fest”, by the director-musician Andrew Heller, with Jesse Norman and Harris Alexiou, D.D. Bridgewater and others.
Amal (EMI Hemisphere, 1998)
Na’na’ ya Na’ na’ (2007)
Baghani [I Sing] (2011)
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.