Bio

Basic & quick info

Nawa Mukerji
Nawa Mukerji

Nawa Kamal Gogol-Jand Mukerji, (Kurdish: نەوا کەمال گۆگۆڵ-جاند مکورجی) I was born on November 3rd, 1987. My official papers say that I was born on the 2nd but I was born on November 3rd’s early morning. I’m an artist. I’m basically a musician, writer, filmmaker, and actor. But for living; I’m a Microsoft Certified Office Specialist Master. It’s been said that I’m multi-talented and multi-functional. I sing pop, classic, opera, contemporary songs and arias. In the beginning of my career I was extremely influenced by classical music, such as J. S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Rachmaninoff… etc. My style is independent and personalized, a complete mixture of many genres including contemporary, opera, operatic pop, pop, and rock.

 

Family Origin

Kamal Mukerji's family
Gogol-Jand Mukerji with his family (from left to right; Atiya Faraj [The pregnant woman], Gogol-Jand Mukerji, Kamal Mukerji, Khairiya Ayoub Ghayub, Shukriya Mukerji, and the child is Aso Mukerji, it is his first birthday on 15 December 1967)
My family’s origin is a mixture of Indian, Turkmen & Kurdish races. From my father’s side, my roots go back to Kolkata, India. My grandfather, Gogol-Jand Mukerji, was a soldier in the British army during the First World War, that’s how he reached Iraq in 1919.

Gogol Jand Mukerji
Gogol Jand Mukerji

Gogol-Jand Mukerji married a Turkmen woman in Kurdistan. They had a son, Kamal and a daughter, Shukriya. Kamal, my father, married a Kurdish woman, Atiya Faraj.

Early Life

Nawa Mukerji in childhood
Nawa Mukerji in childhood

I was the ninth child in my Family, I was born to Kamal Mukerji, a well-known teacher and Atiya Faraj Mahmood, a housewife. I was born 9 months after my father’s sudden death. A few months afterwards, my eldest brother, Aso Mukerji, who was 22 years old at the time, along with my mother, were arrested by the Ba’ath Regime under Saddam Hussein’s leadership as a part of their cruel policies regarding family arrests. The only information that we received after that incident was that they killed Aso and they never gave his body back to us. As for my mother, they moved her to Nasiriya jails in southern Iraq. She was released in 1990. I had to be raised by my mother’s mother during this time, it was a terrible era of my childhood.

Atiya Faraj
Atiya Faraj

We thought if we gained our freedom we would be living in a better situation, but after the Kurdish revolution in 1991 we opened up a new door on our unfinished misery, the civil war had started and it was even worse than Saddam’s era.

Amina Darwesh
Nawa Mukerji had to be raised by his grandmother (Amina Darwesh) during his childhood.

This situation that affected my family affected me as well. Like many other families in Kurdistan, we had to live in poverty. There weren’t many opportunities back then. I was always obsessed with writing, singing, and painting. I was not much of a football player (as it is a habit for children in Kurdistan). So, whoever is bad in playing football in Kurdistan and still want to play with his mates in the alley, they assign him as the goalkeeper. Not to forget, usually they either assign the worst player or a girl as a goalkeeper. And surprisingly; I was a good goalkeeper! When we were playing with those balls that we created by folding as many old socks as we could find. As I was saving lots of attacks and my friends were praising me in it, I liked it and never complained about it. Sometimes I had to play with the girls, because I wasn’t too good in the childhood games that the boys were playing.

 

The country was almost on the line of vanishing but we never stopped playing. The good part was my father left so many books after his death, and I almost read as many as I could just to keep myself busy. I probably didn’t understand any of them, but books in my childhood were the only kind of toys I had. The best books were the Kurdish poetry, especially Abdulla Goran and Faiq Bekas’s poetry. I loved these guys, I read them almost every day! I also read Kurdish classical poetry but to tell you the truth, I never understood any of them as for their extensive language, but Goran’s poetry was my childhood’s best friend.  Sometimes, I would even try to sing some of Goran and Bekas’s poetry, in my thoughts I was composing songs out of their poetry!

Nawa Mukerji was always a fan of Abdulla Goran’s poetry

School

I almost never did my homework, but for some reason, I was always the first in my class. With all my marks 10 out of 10. I pretty much enjoyed singing in every lesson in my primary school. My teachers liked my singing and told me to sing in other classes as well. One day, one of the teachers was having struggles with the higher level students’ singing, so she told me to show them how to sing! I was assigned to do something I had no idea how to do it, so I ended up singing their part for the school’s festival myself! One of my other habits was impersonating other people. My family found this entertaining, so sometimes when we had visitors or guests, they made me impersonate someone and they laughed. For some funny reason, I always stood on a couch or something high to impersonate. I still don’t understand why I always needed to go on a high place to impersonate!

It was around 1998 I decided to become a musician and a Ping-Pong player. I went to a sports club to be trained to become a Ping-Pong player and I started taking few lessons on Lute. One day, I was a goalkeeper and an accident happened and my right arm was injured pretty badly, so I had a cast on my hand for a while, and I also had undergo an Appendectomy surgery to remove my vermiform appendix. These two respective incidents made me abandon music and Ping-Pong as well.

Nawa Mukerji teenager
Nawa Mukerji teenager

It was during this time, I went horse riding. I was given a wild horse to ride, it was very fast and uncontrollable. I fell down and injured the left part of my jaw, and until now I struggle with opening my mouth. This is especially annoying when I sing.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, with the help of my sister and elder brother, that they finally had jobs, we managed to have a better life. They were truly helping the family.

Nawa Mukerji with colleagues in High School

In secondary school, I was a bit of trouble maker. My mind was completely busy with almost everything else but studying. I was not much of a good student anymore. I was either drawing, writing poetry or writing something that I found worthy. For some reasons, I kept almost all of these poems and writings in a big briefcase. On February 2015 I reviewed them and had to burn all of them since I was feeling pretty bad about all of these unreasonable bad poems and stories I had written. It was about more than 250 poems, none of them were worth keeping. I’m sorry history! I destroyed a part of my life’s achievements because I was ashamed of them! I graduated high school in 2007.

Higher Education

University of Sulaimaniyah – Old Campus

I graduated from the School of Kurdish Language & Literature, in University of Sulaymaniyah with a bachelor degree in 2012. This was not enough for me to make a living, so I proceeded it with Microsoft online courses in Microsoft Office products, after taking my exams I got to be recognized as a Microsoft Certified Office Specialist Master on February 17th 2013. This means I’m a rock star in:

  • Microsoft Word Expert
  • Microsoft Excel Expert
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Access
Nawa Mukerji’s master certification

During my time in university, I self-studied singing operatic arias, Stanislavski’s method of acting, also writing screenplays.

Filming Sunniest Soul
Filming Sunniest Soul

In 2011-2012 I started studying filmmaking as well, I keep studying it until now in almost every aspects of filmmaking: Cinematography and photography, lighting, directing, screenplay analysis, makeup, editing…etc. Perhaps this will be my future job.

Becoming a musician

I started learning music for the second time in my life on Makemusic Finale software; this was during the summer of 2006. I continued my self-taught piano lessons and lessons on composing music & opera. Frankly speaking, I wanted to reignite my childhood’s obsession with singing. For almost a decade, so many people told me to not do it, “You cannot become a musician here!” “You are a professional and creative person in working, don’t ruin your life by becoming a failed musician or failed singer”. Well, you don’t marry someone because they are the best person in the entire world for everybody, you just do what you want the most. Perhaps I’m a bad musician, but when I work with music, it means the world to me. Music doesn’t belong to anyone, so no one can prevent me from making music.

Nawa playing at cafes

Back in 2006 and 2007, even until 2010, I spent all my days with music, practicing, composing… I witnessed many incidents that I will share with you later on in separate posts. In 2009 and 2010 I started playing in cafes, restaurants and also some pubs on occasion as well. However most of the people never understood what I was exactly playing, because most of people expect you to play their favorite songs, but when you play your favorite music and your own improvisations, they would not perceive you as good. However, this public playing was not much of an income for me, but it was a fun thing to experiment. As a musician, you always need to experiment with public performing. I also participated in some concerts and events, even some TV shows. I did some personal events and concerts and special nights at both some halls and the places where I played music.

As a Composer

Surreal Portrait of a Rondo
Surreal Portrait of a Rondo

Composing music, was and still conquers almost the majority of my thoughts. As far as I remember, I always wanted to become a composer. Since my childhood, I ridiculously tried to put poetries into songs and sometimes keened on making music without knowing anything about music. Even before I started learning music properly, I tried to make music by software, then it was the right time to learn Makemusic Finale. I was blindly trying to make music since then, sometimes the result was pleasant, and sometimes they were terrible. I think I still have some of those pieces. In a very short amount of time, composing became my biggest interest in music, I kept trying and trying, it was back at the time I was in high school, and I believe I gave most of my studying time up to compose music secretly. I remember sometimes I spent thirteen hours respectively on something without a clue. So I named everything as “Fantasia.” I had an idea that fantasy doesn’t have a strict form. After almost three or four months, I composed something, and again, named it Fantasy. I took a chance to meet one of the most fluent Kurdish composers, I showed him my composition, and he didn’t believe it, he asked me to play it when it was too hard for me to play it. I concentrated more on composition not playing, then, instead of what I was expecting, he was pretty angry and suspicious that I was lying. I was smiling, but my smiling offended him and he felt insulted, he also stated “a liar child comes to my house and makes fun of me that easily, I know what I would have done if this was not my house!” Then I didn’t say or do anything for almost fifteen minutes till he calmed down, and then, I think he felt guilty and started to offer me some books, I thanked him and I still have some notes on one of those books in my library. I never met the composer again.

Nawa Mukerji during rehearsals

Later on, I dared to compose something, I named it “Sonata,” then, later on, I met another composer, and he gave me some notes on my pieces but told me “this is not a sonata!” This composer gave me a big inspiration on how to develop myself in composition. I kept composing little pieces until 2009 when I was in university. We studied the theories of literature, and one day I got this idea on having a system of composition, which ended up being composed in “historism style.” I made some regulations and rules to make historism and created the word myself. In the future, I realized that some composers had already done such a thing but they didn’t name it “historism”. Then, I studied further to know more about composition and try to implement what I learnt into my music. I still do, and the train still goes on, this is how I became a composer!

As a Pianist

Nawa Mukerji performing at Marat/Sade play

Honestly, I was a confused teenager, almost lost in my ambitions, as every other teenager, I wanted to be everything and I wanted to be the most successful one in them all. One noon, I was lying down thinking “what to become?” then I remembered to look for books on music in my brother’s library. I found an Arabic book “Beethoven, father of symphonies,” I started to read it, and it was a book on Beethoven’s life mostly, written in a way that a young guy like me would understand. I decided to translate the book to Kurdish, then I actually started doing that, I kept myself busy with this, and then in the middle of the process, I thought that I shouldn’t translate the book word by word, so I tried a trick, which was going to Bazaar and finding other books on Beethoven. Later on, I found articles about him on internet and other magazines and books. I collected a fair amount of resources, then I tried to translate them and adapt them in my translated book. I also downloaded some of his music, until I got used on him, especially his piano works. I listened to him while I was translating. Somehow, this book was my biggest inspiration and my only guidance to become a pianist. “Why piano?” “Because when you learn piano, you can learn any other instrument better and have a better understanding of composition!” “Finally! I found my pathway to become the musician I wanted to be!” Then I started hanging out with my musician friends, I kept reading everything about music and also taught myself how to read notes poorly! (I’m still very poor at sight-reading anyway.) I started checking my childhood pictures to find out who became a musician, I called them and asked them out, and they became my best friends again. Discussing music was the major topic for me, but the thing was, they were studying it, they didn’t have a passion for it, for them, it was a routine, for me it was a dream! Then I decided to become a pianist.

 

If you have reached here in reading all these stuff, I want to personally thank you for your time and effort. All that is matters now is you, if you are a person like me, trying to make a dream or several dreams come true and you are confused and disappointed; just keep going and raise and shine, there are thousands of me and you around the world struggling to become somebody and trying our best. So please don’t get discouraged, greatness worth high efforts, to believe that we are truly productive and useful is our only salvation and the key of all out mental happiness.