Mor Karbasi

by wjw on September 26, 2008

Here another whole week has gone past, and just because I have been somewhat preoccupied with world financial crisis and the prospect of sleeping under bridges, I haven’t yet mentioned how much fun I had last weekend.

I was at Globalquerque, our yearly festival of world music, and it was terrific.

My hands-down favorite performer was the Israeli singer Mor Karbasi, who is something of a world musical festival in her own right, having a Persian father, Moroccan mother, being born in Jerusalem, based in London, and singing a lot of her songs in Ladino, which is a kind medieval Spanish/Portuguese creole spoken by Sephardic exiles.
She has a gorgeous voice, a repertoire of very strong songs, and a bit of flamenco flair. (Ladino songs had a lot of Morroccan influence, which in turn strongly influenced flamenco, which the Spanish thought had been brought to Spain by the Gypsies, who they thought were from Flanders. No doubt this is all unraveled in Ned Sublette’s excellent book.)
Ladino songs also tend to be about God, though that’s hidden. The Sephardim knew that if they practiced their religion in Spain they’d be burned at the stake, so they disguised their religious songs as love songs, and God as the beloved, usually in the form of a white dove. So if you hear a reference to “paloma blanca,” you know what’s going on.
Her first concert, on Friday night, was in an outdoor courtyard, and the rain began to just pour down. She was in a cloister and sheltered, but the audience wasn’t.
We didn’t leave. I had an umbrella, but most people didn’t. The rain poured, Mor Karbasi sang, and we were all happy.
It was her first U.S. concert, so I think we gave her about the best welcome she could expect.
Also, with Mor Karbasi it’s easy calling for an encore. All you have to do is shout out her name.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

halojones-fan September 27, 2008 at 7:31 pm

She should come over here and run for VP (on the Palin ticket) in 2012. It would be a landslide.

Thai September 28, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Thanks for the recommendation- amazing!

I just bought one of her songs on iTunes.

Bob October 12, 2008 at 8:05 pm

I saw both of Mor Karbasi’s concerts at Globalquerque (rain soaked courtyard and inside the Disney Theater). She has an amazing voice! Her CD and EP are fantastic, but if you can, I recommend a live concert.

A. October 13, 2008 at 12:50 am

I saw Mor Karbasi in Chicago a few weeks ago at the 2008 World Music Festival in Chicago at Martyr’s. I had never heard or saw her before. But when I walked in the club and saw her on stage, I was captivated. Not only by her looks (she is Beautiful)but by the sounds coming from the stage. It was a combination of Arabic, Flamenco, Persian and Moroccan (sp?) music all wrapped in one. I bought her cd after the show and met her. She signed my cd. I’ve been playing it now everyday for the last 3 weeks. Each song on it is excellent. Unfortunately for her, she won’t be a HUGE star here in the U.S. unless she cuts some songs in all English, does some videos half dressed and goes on all the talk shows. God, I would hate to see that happen. She is pure. Let’s hope she stays that way.

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