Nesma Herky, A Nubian Journey between Jazz and Oriental Music

Us humans cannot live without passion; it is our drive and what keeps us moving, and without it nothing we do will ever have meaning. Passion alone won’t do much, though, and dedication and perseverance are what will bring this passion to fruition. Thus, was the journey of singer Nesma Herky, who started singing since she was in school. She then enrolled into the Faculty of Fine Arts. There, she joined theater groups and performed two plays, one of which was a musical containing folk songs such as those of Sheikh Imam, Ahmed Fouad Negm and Fouad Haggag. She then decided to focus more on singing as a career. That is when she attended workshops with Dr. Fathy Salama and Dr. Nivine Allouba. At that time, she was part of her musical group Fabrica, and now her latest work is a workshop with Ramy Atallah. We speak to her to learn more about her journey, music and passion.

How did your Nubian and Sudanese roots influence the nature of the music you make?

My Nubian and Sudanese musical style was purely coincidental. Ever since I was a child, I preferred English and French songs, but later on I realized that I prefer folk songs. After that, when I started making my own music, I started noticing that it has a Nubian feel to it. When I spoke more to producers, I found out from them that my songs by coincidence end up in the pentatonic scale, which is the same scale used in Sudanese and Nubian music.

Tell us about your experience with Cairokee and Hisham Kharma.

I really love Cairokee on the artistic and personal levels. My first collaboration with them was on Mekameleen in 2013. After that, we performed a lot together on stage during the World Cup in Egypt, and in Cairo Festival City, and we held a concert or two together. And Hisham Kharma is one of the most respectable and professional people in the music industry. He does everything with passion. I worked with him for two years in live concerts. It was one of the experiences which influenced my journey positively. Until I decided to become a solo artist, but until now I have so much respect for him.

What’s the secret behind the touching nature of “Qamary” your latest song?

I wrote the song in 2014 along with its tune. At the time I was in the car with my husband and I felt that I had words that I must put down in writing. It came out of me at that time, but was only released this year as the first song in my new album.

In your opinion what kind of music do we need in Egypt?

I think authentic oriental music, music connected to our Arab and Egyptian roots. Especially that nowadays many songs are produced similarly. We need to bring back music with oriental production and scales.

If Nesma Herky was to begin an oriental music project, where would she start?

I currently am working on such a project with music producer Mohab Samy, but it is taking time due to the COVID19 situation.

If you could describe each music genre, Mahraganat, Pop, Rock, Oriental Music and House, how would you do that?

Mahraganat: I’m trying to love them.

Pop: The spotlight.

Rock: The core.

Oriental: The pulse and feeling.

House: I don’t feel it.

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