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Ajak Kwai

DESCRIPTION: Ajak Kwai is a South Sudanese born female singer-songwriter who is based in Australia.


ACTIVITY PERIOD: 1990's - Current



RECORD COMPANIES / LABELS (Current & Past): Independent, Only Blues Music

OFFICIAL WEB SITE: http://www.ajakkwai.com/


Born in a small town called Bor in the Malakal Region of the Upper Nile, Ajak Kwai grew up in a musical family. In fact, music was central to her way of life, and intrinsic to her cultural heritage. She sang at all the village ceremonies and celebrations, later joining a local missionary choir that sang gospel music in their own Dinka style. Ajak Kwai recalls how the villagers would gather for ceremonies under the full moon. 'Even when I was sick and not supposed to go out, I'd go and attend these gatherings', she says. 'I'd start a song and everyone would answer.' Not everyone was enthusiastic about her musical prowess. 'My family discouraged me,' she says. 'But then I would sing and hum in my sleep. My brother and uncles thought I was crazy.'

The Sudanese civil war damaged her community during the 1990s and she had to move to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, before finally leaving the last of her family in 1992 to go to Egypt. There, she enrolled in a Seventh Day Adventist College, involved herself in international church choirs and formed a female singing group, called 'Bor Band'. Bor Band performed traditional and original Dinka songs, but living in Cairo for eight years meant she was influenced by many music styles.

In 1999, in her mid-twenties, Ajak was accepted into Australia under the Humanitarian Aid Program. She migrated to Hobart, Tasmania and joined the small Southern Sudanese community living there. Upon arrival she put her singing career to one side while she threw herself into her studies: an AMES English language course and accounting studies at TAFE. But one day, class members were organising a ceremony and asked if anyone could sing, and Ajak obliged. They asked her to sing some more. As they say, the rest is history.

Ajak's reputation as a fine musician with an original sound grew. She was soon called upon to sing at many community and fundraising events, including a welcome concert for refugees from Kosovo, for whom she wrote a song. She has been invited to perform at the Hobart Refugee Fundraising Concerts, Hobart Multicultural Ball, International Women's Day events and other refugee awareness conferences. In 2001, Ajak formed the band Wahida (Arabic for Unity). Later, in 2002, Ajak started performing in various festivals in Australia, often accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Martin Tucker. In May 2004, Ajak produced her first CD 'Why not Peace and Love?'

Ajak sings in her native Dinka tribal language as well as in Arabic and English. The songs Ajak sings are very close to her heart, inspired as they are by her continuing love and hopes for her homeland and through her concern and sadness for the ongoing civil war still raging in Sudan. 'I'm not a politician', she says, 'but music can take your message places'.

Source: Women Australia


Parent Category Page Links: Music Artists / Outfits - South Sudan Music Artists / Outfits - Australia

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