MUSICIAN | ACTIVIST | ACTOR | AUTHOR
“I believe I survived for a reason… to tell my story… to touch lives”
EMMANUEL JAL was born into the life of a child solider on an unknown date in the early 1980s in the war-torn region of Southern Sudan. Through unbelievable struggles, Emmanuel managed to survive and go on to emerge as a recording artist, achieving worldwide acclaim for his unique style of hip hop with its message of peace and reconciliation born out of his personal experiences.
Emmanuel has released five award nominated studio albums including a JUNO for Best World Music in 2015: “Gua,” “Ceasefire,” “Warchild,” “See Me Mama,” and “The Key.”
His music has appeared in major motion pictures including Blood Diamond and The Good Lie as well numerous TV series and documentaries.
Emmanuel has toured with the likes of Lauryn Hill, Xavier Rudd, Amadou and Mariam and his live appearances have included Live 8, Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday Concert and the One Concert for his Holiness the Dalai Lama. He has collaborated and performed alongside artists such as Peter Gabriel, Nelly Furtado, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Joss Stone, Nile Rodgers and Alicia Keys.
“South Sudan is still suffering from years of war and oppression, we feel it is our cultural responsibility to bring out the music and voices from our country. As siblings we were forced apart in our childhood through extreme circumstances, so we are excited to be united on this project to bring the sounds of our village to the mainstream.”
Emmanuel Jal is currently embarking on his 6th studio album; a stunning joint collaboration with his hugely talented sister, Nyaruach.
Emmanuel’s sister Nyaruach was also born in South Sudan at a similar time and was separated from the rest of her immediate family, including Jal, at the age of 4. As years went on, the war intensified, she witnessed her family members killed and was raped by government officials. It wasn’t until 2004 that she was finally reunited with Jal in Nairobi. Unfortunately due to renewed violence in South Sudan and threats upon her life, Nyaruach has been forced to live in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya where she has an uncertain future.
Emmanuel and Nyaruach have recorded together on Emmanuel’s break out single Gua, which stands for “peace” in their native Nuer tongue which was broadcast by the BBC across Africa and became a hit in Kenya in 2005. The two have since performed together in Kenya for Oxfam and South Sudan for the first of its kind peace concert with Daryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels organised by Emmanuel’s non-profit organisation ‘We Want Peace.’
Despite immense obstacles, Emmanuel and Nyaruach are now finalising their first album together with the release of their single Ti-Chuong scheduled for early next year. The track is an upbeat dance song, drawing on the unique and rarely heard sounds and traditional afrobeat from South Sudan. Emmanuel and Nyaruach are both keen to work with additional producers and DJs to remix and reinterpret the music to bring it to a larger audience.
Jal’s demand as public a speaker has provided many unique opportunities such as addressing the UN, US Congress, the Carter Centre, G20 and the highest tiers of several governments. He has spoken at and been involved with TED GLOBAL, Virgin UNITE, Skoll Foundation, The Elders Group, Apple, The British Council, Clinton Global Initiative, Adolescent Girls Initiative, One Young World, Ericsson and . Emmanuel has also been a major spokesperson in high profile campaigns for Lulu Lemon, Amnesty International, Oxfam Climate Change Campaign and the CNN Freedom Project.
In the Media
Jal’s press and media coverage includes interviews with The New York Times, Forbes, CNN, Fox News, Washington Post, USA Today, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, BBC Newsnight, The Guardian, The Economist, The Evening Standard, NBC, The Times, The Independent, MTV, CBC, CTV, BBC, SBS and many more outlets worldwide. His 2009 TED Global talk has achieved tens of thousands of YouTube hits.
On the Big Screen
In 2008 a full-length documentary on his life was released. The film, “Warchild,” won 12 prestigious film festival awards worldwide. In the same year, his autobiography, also called Warchild, was published by Little Brown. Jal appeared as the adult lead in the motion picture “Africa United,” in October 2010.
Emmanuel also starred in Warner Brother’s “The Good Lie” alongside Reece Witherspoon, Cory Stall, Arnold Oceng, and Ger Duany. “Certified Fresh” by Rotten Tomatoes, The Good Lie tells the story of the Lost Boys of South Sudan who win the “lottery” and come to America in search of a second chance at life. Emmanuel has also recently appeared in the SBS Tv Series Sunhine.
Despite his accomplishments in music and film, one of Jal’s biggest passions is Gua Africa, the charity he has founded to work with individuals, families and communities to help them overcome the effects of war and poverty. Besides building schools, the charity provides scholarships for Sudanese war survivors in refugee camps and sponsors education for children in the most deprived slum areas in Nairobi.
In December 2010, Jal released “We Want Peace,” as part of the wider campaign of the same name calling for peace, protection and justice for all in Sudan ahead of the January 2011 referendum, but also calling for an end to all conflicts affecting innocent people around the world. The campaign was supported by A-list artists and leading figures from diverse fields, including Peter Gabriel, Alicia Keys, George Clooney, Richard Branson, President Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan and many more. In 2012 he organized and hosted the first of its kind Peace Dinner and Concert in Juba, South Sudan on International Peace Day, supported by H.E Dr. Riek Marchar, Vice President of South Sudan alongside legendary US hip hop artist DMC . Emmanuel has since organised two large peace concerts in Toronto, Canada inviting artists such as Paul Beaubrun, Faarrow and Nelly Furtado to perform.
Through his peace movement We Want Peace Emmanuel Jal is working alongside African artists such as Juliani (Kenya), Vanessa Mdee (Tanzania), and Syssi Mananga (Congo Brazzaville) to spread passion and awareness about Afrcia’s at risk elephant population. Through the new campaign Stand For Elephants, these artists released the peace anthem TUSIMAME (Let’s Stand) Jal still undertakes his Lose to Win Challenge, which sees him raising funds for Gua Africa, Africa Yoga Project and My Start for Windle Trust International.
Through social media and fan participation, the campaign has grown in strength and Emmanuel’s message of peace has resonated particularly amongst young people, allowing them to connect to larger social and political issues through emotional empathy. With the support of organizations such as Free The Children, Amnesty International, Ford Foundation, Humanity United and many others, Emmanuel has taken ‘We Want Peace’ on the road and spoken to hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world, touring across Mexico, the UK, the US, Africa, Canada, Australia and Asia. Often these tours include visits to community centres, youth detention centres and prisons where Emmanuel has been able to speak first hand to young people who have become disengaged with education and society.
For his outstanding commitment to peace building, Jal has been awarded the Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Award 2017, The Mattie Stepanek Peace Prize, The Hunt Humanitarian Award, The Dresden Peace Prize and The Common Ground Award amongst others. In 2012, he was asked to be a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum, and he has performed at the G20 summit in Mexico.
A firm believer that a peaceful body creates a peaceful mind Emmanuel also created Jal Gua, a gluten free super food powder made of organic sorghum and organic moringa, which has 140% iron, 45% Vitamin C and 40% Vitamin B1 of the daily recommended intake. Jal Gua has a distribution deal with Pilling Foods in Ontario, Canada and is currently stocked in major health stores across Canada including WHOLE FOODS as well as online: www.jalgua.org. Emmanuel has also opened his own organic cafe of the same name in downtown Toronto.