Oral History Interview - Amira Kheir

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Oral History Interview - Amira Kheir

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Audio recording of an oral history interview with Amira Kheir, a Sudanese-Italian singer who was born in Turin, Italy 1985.


Extract of interview with Amira Kheir:

"I’ve been singing my whole life. Now I’m doing it professionally. I grew up with Sudanese music so it’s very meaningful to me. My singing taps into different Sudanese traditions but it’s not traditional in itself. I’ve reworked it so now it has bits of jazz, bits of my life and others. What comes out in my music is an adoption of what my family, my culture, my background passed on to me. I see it as spiritual, for as human beings we are all spiritual.

I came to Hackney in 2004. I loved it immediately and felt so at home, so comfortable. It’s my favourite part of London. It reminded me of a lot of different places I’ve been to. It’s a place of its own, a reunion of the whole world in one area.

Where I come from it’s a desert climate, very dry, where the Blue and the White Nile meet. It’s very beautiful. The Nile is the source of life there because it’s so dry. But I’m quite fluid with the idea of home. I like travelling, meeting people but I feel connected to Africa. I need to know where I come from but I don’t feel I have to stay there. It’s like a tree, if you have strong roots you can branch out and reach far.

I think we have a duty to transcend culture. It’s important to know what your heritage is but not to make that a barrier between you and other people. In fact to make it a bridge that helps you to get closer to people and share and come together.

I think culture should be an enabler rather than an impediment, especially as we all have different cultures. That’s what I feel about Hackney; in its own little way it’s an example of that."

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