Karen Malka is one of Israel's leading singer songwriters. She started singing and writing early on. Her formal training began at 19 with various teachers, but she acquired most of her knowledge from the numerous musicians she co-operated with along the way, honing her skills in various styles including jazz, folk and soul.
In 2000, she joined the world renowned TARARAM as drummer/ singer/ dancer, and toured extensively for three years with the group. In 2003, Karen formed her first band in Israel: The Karen Malka Project.
Over the years, Karen has co-operated with many leading Israeli musicians, including Idan Reichel, Danny Sanderson, Metropolin, Idan K and The Movement, Alon Adiri from the Dub Syndicate, the djembe player Haroona Dembelle, and many others.
In February 2008, Karen joined the Avishai Cohen Eastern Unit Project, a partnership she describes as follows: "This was (and still is) the most inspiring and creative time of my life. Working with Avishai gave me the confidence to sing myself". Karen found herself writing music and lyrics again, and Lady of the Forest – "a surprising side effect of this joint work", as she calls it, was recorded in between tours. The album was recorded with the people she toured with for three years – Avishai Cohen, Shai Maestro and Itamar Doari. Karen describes the experience as "coming home, or rather, like coming home and finding the house had become a palace".
Karen currently tours with Cohen and his Aurora quintet worldwide, and can be heard on Avishai's last two recordings, including his current release Aurora (EMI/ Blue Note, France 2009).
Lady of the Forest is Karen's debut solo album. Some songs were written years ago, "like seeds waiting underground to sprout", as she puts it. The instrumental piece, for instance, was written when Karen was 18: "During home sessions with Guy Shoham, my good friend and flat mate, and who also plays on the recording, this tune suddenly came up, and it now carries a whole new meaning. To me it symbolizes a kind of rebirth, and this album would not have been whole without it".
"Come with Me", another track that came relatively late in the process, is based on a prayer, around forty pages long, written by Meir Yanay: "I copied the first few stanzas on a piece of paper", explains Karen, "and kept that paper in my purse for years like some sort of amulet. On the second day of rehearsing with the band, I went home feeling rather elated, and found that piece of paper, which had been lying around the piano for several days, waiting. That night I wrote music to it, as if it had been there for ages".
Avishai's "Looking for You" was another track that sneaked into the album somewhat unexpectedly; "Shortly after Avishai and I started singing together, he was asked to write a song for an Israeli singer. During one of our meetings, he played me this song and asked me to sing it, to hear how it sounded with a female singer. I immediately fell in love with it. Avishai decided I should have it, and so it came to be included in this album".
Lady of the Forest (RD4610) will be released on Razdaz Recordz worldwide, from October 2010.
Sign up to Karen's mailing list to receive regular updates on what she is up to