Saturday, January 26, 2008

Choukri

Choukri was brought into the world in 1971 in the very heart of Ikashouan, an Amazigh (Berber) village north of Morocco, by a woman who would forever play a meaningful and highly valued role in his life. The village joyously heralded his birth with Izran. In Amazigh tradition many births were ? and still are - welcomed with Izran, songs straight from the heart, poetry filled with rhyming verse. Izran are sung to alleviate the sorrows of life but also to receive good fortune with a smile of bliss.

In his young days folksongs constituted the humming engine that would take Choukri to an unknown destiny. At a very early age he started developing an interest in the Izran which were sung to percussion accompaniment in his village during festivities, as they still are today. He let himself be led by this tradition of song and music and its impact on his musical
development can still be felt today. He was still quite young when he first started experimenting with Izran on a nylon guitar he had made himself.

By the end of the 70's, when he was 9 years old, he moved with his parents to the town of
Al Hoceima. He was 10 years old when for the first time in his life he had the opportunity to behold two real-life guitars. The two guitars were offered for sale in a tiny music shop, the only one that Al Hoceima possessed. This experience has been indelibly printed in his memory and to this very day he can recall the two guitars on display, a smaller and a bigger one. He was deeply moved by the symbolism of the music which was so nearby and so concrete; it couldn't help but make his hunger for music grow even bigger. There wasn't a day that passed without Choukri going by the shop window and feasting his eye on the guitars displayed there. The small one was the guitar he had fallen in love with at first sight - he drifted away in a flood of dreams about possessing and playing this lovely instrument. Finally, after six years of sustained saving he could buy the guitar he felt he had a spiritual bond with. His dream had come true. Now that he possessed the guitar he could join up with the other musicians. Amidst the musicians of the town of Al Hoceima
he had all the elbow-room he needed to discover and develop his musical talents.

He started composing protest songs and songs which put the burden of an Amazigh's life into words. The neglect his people were suffering and their yearning for freedom and equal treatment in human rights took shape in his musical performances. Dissatisfaction with political repression and economical discrimination of his people drove him to give expression to his displeasure.

In 1990 the harsh circumstances forced Choukri to flee the callous reality of every day
Morocco and to move to Holland
, where he got in touch with artists from various cultures. This cultural connection between musicians of all sorts of ethnical backgrounds resulted in a fruitful cooperation. As he himself so aptly puts it: "For me, music is a source of solidarity and infinite harmony. Music is a unique way of voicing our daily reality. For me, musical expression has and knows no ethnical restrictions or boundaries.
In music I feel the presence of a power which can bring people and nations closer together."

His inner observations are largely grafted onto motherhood in all its literal and metaphorical contexts. With diligence, intensity and reflection he tried to incorporate the songs into his musical performance. In his permanent search for songs with depth he had found a number of authors whose literary talents he greatly admires and respects. These authors gave themselves entirely to the work and in their poems he recognized poetical passion and an admirable esthetic sense of reality as well as imaginative power. He himself expresses it as follows: "Poetry is the art that puts reality into words and music gives it voice. Music is an expression of emotion." By broadening his horizon he hopes to deepen his music. His inspiration is everyday life.


1st Album: 'Mara Mmutegh a Yemma' - 'If I die my mother'
In 2000 Choukri started recording his first repertoire and by the end of 2003 he brought out the melancholic album 'Mara Mmutegh a Yemma'. With his very personal style Choukri lives up to his reputation in the world of Amazigh music.

PREVIEW
The rediscovery of traditional music and my absorption in it gave me innovative ideas which led to further development of the Amazigh music. The connection between traditional and modern music produced in me progressive and innovative ideas. My passion for music continues undiminished in my life.

A selection of his performances from 1991 to 2003:
With his musical performances Choukri aims to make a positive contribution to the diversity within Dutch society. Beginning in 1991, Choukri gives live performances during various Amazigh and Dutch cultural festivals in a great variety of towns. He has performed in many places, such as de Rode Hoed in Amsterdam, Cultural Centres, Open Stages and schools in Holland.

AMAZIGH cultural day based on AMSAWAD (12th May 2001, Amsterdam)
Amsawad, which means communication - the same conception that (mis)understanding often hinges upon -, is the central theme of the cultural event which the Amazigh organization "Tharazouth" set up in Audio in Amsterdam. Various population groups from different cultural backgrounds met with the intention of making and maintaining contact. This day was
especially meant for exchanging all cultural substances that can be found in Holland.
Choukri, Wallid Mimoun, Ayned and others had been invited to give a live concert to herald the event and to provide it with musical accompaniment.

TAMAZGHA Festival in the Melkweg, Amsterdam
On 11 and 12 January 2003 musicians of Amazigh origin ushered in the Amazigh New Year at the Tamazgha Festival. Initiator and organizer Marmoucha had brought artists together in order to give them the opportunity to compare notes and to exchange useful skills and expertise. This led to an explosion of inspiration in the artists, which in its turn resulted in great enthusiasm with the audience. Choukri and Takfarinas were among the honoured participants of the festival. On that day, artists from all corners of the Amazigh musical world proved that musical diversity can lead to surprising unity when there is harmony.

Visit Choukri's official website
Listen to Choukri

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