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A Kazakh from China wins hearts of London

Written by on Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Culture and History, Kazakhstan
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Mamer, a musician and singer and ethnic Kazakh from Xinjiang, has already become a celebrity in China and Europe, recorded his album in London and still he is totally unknown in his historic Motherland. One of ten children, he was singing and playing dombra since childhood. Mamer, 30, from Urumqi works with folk melodies and also writes his own songs, all in Kazakh language.

“The great old Kazak folk songs were born when people were shepherding. Living in cities we are often too busy to allow this sort of tranquillity. I have to return to the grasslands once or twice a year. That is where I get my inspiration. I always stay awhile with the old people in the mountains, learning their songs and traditions. I want to breathe new life into the poems and songs I grew up with”, he says .

Mamer is not an antagonist to the Western music too – Yes, King Crimson, and Pink Floyd. He used to study at the Urumqi music college, but he quit it, then he worked on the TV doing voiceovers of movies, and then he played in a band, which did covers of Michael Jackson, The Police and Metallica. In 2002 Mamer moved to Beijing, made up a band to perform Kazakh-language songs that both respected and updated tradition.

Chinese recording labels offered him everything a musician can desire 0 albums, tours and television, but with some conditions like adding beats or singing in Chinese language. Mamer refused to adapt to the market and preserve tradition he has been always cherishing. Thus, he has grown into a cult figure and an underground hero. Two years ago he met Robin Haller, a producer from England, who was struck by originality of Mamer’s sound. This is how the Kazakh from China has moved to the concert halls of London.

Listen to Mamer’s music on his MySpace page.

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