"There is something in my heart, it has your name"
biography | On the cusp of two worlds
Karima El Filllali (1987) was born into a family of Dutch seafarers and Moroccan migrants and grew up on the cusp of two worlds. Music and spirituality played an important role in her upbringing. Her mother introduced her to singing, baroque music, and the church – while her father introduced her to Islam, and his collection of Moroccan music cassettes. Here she first discovered her homeland’s folk music, Quranic recitations, and the incredible voice of Egypt’s greatest diva: Oum Kalthoum.
At a later age, she became so fascinated with her father’s heritage and its spiritual and musical traditions, that it ultimately drove her to go on a quest to Morocco. It was here that she began to study Arabic, and engulf herself in everything from gnawa to lyrical Arabic singing techniques. When she finally found a teacher – a grandmaster and Sufi singer – she dedicated herself to studying the art of tarab: music that brings the listener to a state of ecstasy and into an experience of something bigger than oneself.
After returning to The Netherlands, Karima applied what she had learned and soon became known for her authentic homages to Oum Kalthoum – but also for more experimental work, often characterized by cultural influences from Africa, Europe, and The Middle East. She has collaborated with renowned artists like Malian diva Oumou Sangare and Moroccan gnawa master Mahmoud Guinea and received an Award of Honor from the Minister of Culture of Morocco for her cultural contributions to the country.
MISSION | THE HEROINE'S JOURNEY
In our fast-paced day-to-day lives, our attention is constantly consumed by the rat race, keeping up with the Joneses and social media updates. We’ve reduced The Mystery to what can be explained, and stripped away everything but the mundane.
Many of us have lost touch with the ways of our ancestors. Their mystical traditions have been reduced to a set of rigid rituals, ruled by antiquated ideas. We breathe new life in our forefathers’ musical techniques, mystical traditions, and cultural identities – and break free from stigmatic ideas and gender stereotypes. This is the heroine’s journey.
Karima El Fillali is a modern-day oracle, channeling the unseen into music through her sonic rites reminiscent of seances. She offers an ancient archetype in contemporary form, uniting spirit and sensuality in harmony. Through music, she reclaims space for the divine feminine in SWANA communities – and all of us, living in between two worlds. This is all goodness, all kindness, all generosity.