Karen Malka is one of Israel’s leading singer songwriters. Her formal training began at the age of 19 with various teachers, but she acquired most of her knowledge from the numerous musicians she’s 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.
Karen can be heard on two of Cohen’s recordings, Aurora (EMI Blue Note/France 2009).
Lady of the Forest is Karen’s debut solo album. Some songs were written years before recording, “like seeds waiting underground to sprout”, as she puts it. The instrumental piece, for instance, was written when Karen was 18 and came about during sessions at home, suddenly carrying a whole new meaning. “Come with me”, another track, that came relatively late in the process, is based on a prayer, originally forty pages long, written by Meir Yanay. Karen copied the first few stanzas on a piece of paper and carried it in her purse for years; on the second day of rehearsing for this recording, she found that same piece of paper, which had been lying around the piano for several days, waiting. She wrote music to it that very night.
Avishai Cohen’s “Looking for You” was another track that sneaked into the album somewhat unexpectedly. Cohen originally wrote it for another Israeli singer. Eventually, after hearing Karen sing this piece, he decided she should have it – and so it found its way into her album.