Amal Murkus is a leading Palestinian singer and actress of international renown, who is also a producer and host of numerous cultural and artistic TV and radio programs.
Amal was born in the village of Kfar Yasif, in the Galilee, and already at the early age of 5 sang at family weddings and village parties and soon also at large public gatherings and political-patriotic events. When she was 10 she won first prize in the Children’s Song Festival in Tamra.
After finishing her high school studies in 1986 she graduated in 1990 from the Beit Zvi Institute for the Performing Arts (Tel Aviv) and in 2007 from the Musrara Arts College in Jerusalem on "Art as a Tool for Social Chang". She is a lecturer in the Arab Teachers Training College in Haifa and as a panelist for cultural and art sessions, workshops of music, rhythm and vocal exercises for stage art.
Amal has created and released five albums of songs and performances, all inspired by authentic Arab and Palestinian poetry and tunes:
1- “AMAL" EMI, UK (2000).
2- “Shawq” (Longing, 2004, with arab insambel & the Symphony Orchestra).
3- “Nana ya-Nana” (Peppermint O Peppermint, 2007), which reconstructs popular Palestinian songs of the past.
4- “Baghanni” (I Sing, 2011) which was voted “Best Album of the Year” by Radio Shams’ Shadi Ballan and by Ha-Aretz
Newspaper (Ben Shalev).
5- “Fattah il-Ward” came out in 2016.
Since “Baghanni” Amal produces and tapes her albums in a recording studio she had created especially for the purpose in Kufr Yaseef. The lyrics for one of her latest songs, “Rebel as Che Guevara”, originally composed and sung by Cuban composer Carlos Puebla in 1995, were written by her son Firas Zreik.
Her extensive vocal range and creative talents enable Amal to perform in a wide range of genres, from traditional Arab to modern popular western styles. As a result, she has created some remarkable collaboration with other artists and international musicians.
As early as 1988 she sang together with the American folk singer and activist Joan Baez in an anti-war concert in Tel Aviv, and later appeared with the famous Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa and the radical rock star and song writer Robert Wyatt.
Numerous collaborations and guest appearances followed:
1998: Seven Times Seven – Oliver Shanty and Friends (SatvaMusic Germany).
1999: Voices from the World – Various Artists (NMC).
1999: Sweet Sorrow, with the Greek singer Glykeria on the Single “The Mothers Prayer" (NMC).
1999: Radio Darweesh (Polygram Italy).
2000: In Paradiso Conte, duet with "Stadio" (EMI Italy).
2002: Majlis Arab Songs (Virgin).
2002: Ethno (Eros, Greece).
2003: EMI Australia.
2005: Label Bleu – France.
2007: Putumayo – World Music USA.
2008: Tudos os Cuntus de Nondos, with Nana Caymmi – Brazil.
She also performed many times with the Italian saxophonist and singer-song writer Enzo Avitabile and took part in his movie
And with the Basq artist Fermin Mugruza in his film "Chekpoint Rock."
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 "Festival of the Last Prima Donnas", which also featured Jesse Norman, Harris Alexiou, Dee Dee Bridgewater and others.
In 2005 Amal produced and staged a special musical event in the Galilee celebrating the “70th Birthday of Fayrouz", the world famous Lebanese singer and musical star.
Amal also strongly identifies with the poetry of Mahmoud Darweesh and in 1999 appeared many times together with Darweesh in Nazareth and Kufr Yaseef. When Darweesh famously came to Haifa in 2007 to recite his poetry in the city’s main concert hall on top of Mt Carmel, Amal moderated this historical event. In 2006 she similarly shared the podium with Palestinian poet Samih al-Qasim in a series of cultural evenings of poetry and songs.
Amal has toured in Italy, Germany, France, Russia, Spain, Denmark, Bulgaria, Greece, Tunisia, Morocco, Brazil, the UK and other countries and appeared in many international music festivals including:
Womex (Spain); Festival of Arab Arts (Liverpool, UK); BathFestival (UK); "Almadina" (Tunisia); Ethnos (Italy); Ethnic Music Festival (Sicily); The White Night (Naples); The Jubilee Day Live Show (Vatican 2000); The Dho Ziff, Festival of World Culture (Ireland); "Elias Crean" (Madrid); “Casa De Arab” Official Opening Night, together with Tunisian artist Anwar Ibraheem (Madrid); Tira & Peace (San Marino); "Voices" (Luxemburg); and The Royal Festival Hall (London).
Among the many educational and cultural TV programs she has produced for children and adults are:
“Gosn az-Zaytoon” (Olive Branch), “Kan Ya Makan” (Once upon a Time…), “Jiran” (Neighbors), “Bawabet Amal” (The Gate of Hope) “Ya Awlad Haritna” (Hey Kids of the Neighborhood), “Ghanni-li Ghanni” (Song for me, Sing). For Radio ash-Shams she produces and moderates two cultural programs, “Rofea’ As-Sitar” (Raising the Curtain) and “Sahret Amal” (Evening Party with Amal).
As an actress, Amal has appeared in numerous theater productions and TV shows and she is a regular cast member in the Palestinian - Israeli version of "Sesame Street."
She was nominated for the Israeli Oscar (the Ophir prize) for her performance in Ali Nasser's 1998 movie "The Milky Way" and has won several acting awards, among them “Best Actress” at the Haifa International Film Festival in 2003. She played and sang in the world premiere of Peter Herbert’s interactive opera “Trans-Maghreb” at the 2014 Bregenz Festival (Austria).
In 2010 she was on the panel of judges in the Palestinian edition of the TV Song Contest “New Star”.
Amal was a member of the counseling board of Free Muse, an organization working against the censorship of art and music. She took an active part in its congress in Denmark in 2003. In the same year the Italian Province of Avellino honored her for her activist role in promoting freedom and peace, as did Women to Women USA for the way she supports women’s issues through her art.
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