My Story

Tara Salah Moneka, 17 Years Old, Half Baghdadi Half Basri.

I started singing early on in my life, I was just learning to properly pronounce words, I was four years old at the time. When I was six years old, I had to enroll in my first class, and I couldn't give up my love for singing. At the beginning my singing was a simple murmur and an attempt to upset my family at first, then I decided to study in the school of music and ballet and sang at school concerts.  Ever since I was four up until I reached the proper age to go to school, I used to profusely listen to Umm Kulthum, trying from time to time to understand the Egyptian dialect until a sentence of her song made me stop: (How do I describe you, my dear, how, before I loved you). And wondered how she was before she loved him.  With a sense of humor and an overwhelming childhood atmosphere, I listened to Hindi songs - of which i would not understand anything; except that they were fast, light and vibrant. I’d also listen to English and Arabic songs.   At the age of seven, the old Iraqi songs began to polish my childish spirit and transport me to other worlds, worlds where Zohoor Hussein would sing her famous song (Pretty, pretty, oh very pretty, by God pretty). Salima Murad sings: (This is not fair, your absence took longer than expected) and with all my innocence at the time I asked myself, “ if he was absent, why doesn’t she search for him?”. The same question formed in my mind when listening to the song “leaving them with me” sung as a Baghdadi Maqam by (Hussein Al-Azhami). I later understood that singing is one of the means by which people find those who we love and miss.   I was very happy when the artist Youssef Omar sang the song “ we are tanned (dark skinned)”. He did justice to us by singing (because of you (brown person) my heart is distraught). The artist Aziz Ali surprised me, while he sings the Iraqi Monologue (Oh people, our disastrous disaster, we be quiet, our issues expose us, we speak our illness kills us) because of how that had made him feel.   In 2014-2015, I broke the barrier of shame and wanted everyone to hear my voice emanating from the depths of my throat, so I sang in the play (Aziza) directed by Bassem El-Tayeb for two consecutive seasons. I sang with them (This is not fair from you that your absence takes that long).   I was offered the opportunity to sing at the Peace Festival. Those who listened to me and ran the festival asked me to continue participating annually.   At the age of nine, I thought of advancing from my love of singing to a profession. Therefore, I decided to start my artistic career and participated in The Voice Kids.   I revived an ancient song which is closest to my heart: (Helu Helu). I was happy that I sang what I loved to sing, but I did not escape the criticism that was directed at me from various sides. “How dare girls sing in front of a large crowd and on a huge stage filled with an audience.” It was considered a scandal. As if I had killed one of them.  I faced racism because of the color of my brown skin. I’d get disparaged and get told “her parents forgot her in the oven” and “God is angry at her which is why she is black”; without any of the bullies taking into account that I am a little girl who does not understand their temperament. They see white skin as a standard of beauty and femininity and soft hair is evidence of cleanliness and put togetherness. However, I was happy with my skin color which is composed of Baghdadi and Basri blood, and then I understood that the challenges are what shape us.  Sometimes I doubted my ability to continue because the pressures increased as I got older. I left my life in Iraq and moved to Turkey and started my journey again from scratch. After that I moved with my family to live in Canada and started again from scratch in another country. Perhaps my chances for success became less, but my love for singing and my father and mother's support for me was greater than all the negative thoughts that had my mind.  I achieved many successes during my small career, my greatest success so far was composing the song (Why We Die), which we (song team) dedicated to the Tishreen (October) Revolutionaries to support and encourage them to continue to demand their legitimate rights. My next step is to focus on diversity and difference in the artistic arena and try to support the new youth energies.  My message to the women of my country is to not be afraid of their ambition and to achieve their goals, whatever the cost. Later on, everyone will be proud of them, even those who opposed them at the beginning of the journey.

Image description: Against a black background, a woman in three-quarters profile sings into a microphone that she holds with her right hand. We see her from the shoulders up. Her eyes are closed and she is smiling. Her hair is dark and curly, appearing purple in the spotlight. She wears a blue jacket, two bracelets, and two rings on her right hand.