All Things Revealed – The Man behind the Song – “Dawod Barkho”

helen_talia.jpgAll Things Revealed
The Man behind the Song – “Dawod Barkho”
In Canada, there is a “treasure” sworn to secrecy in an Assyrian home in Toronto that has not yet been revealed to too many people. Come closer, you see it, not with your eyes, but with your heart, you touch it, not with your hands, but with your eyes, and you feel it, not with your heart, but with the depth of your soul ~ the secret is “Dawod Barkho.”

I arrived in Toronto on a mid June afternoon, searching for the man who had made countless contributions to modern Assyrian pop culture music, and recently been named as one of the “Top Twenty” Assyrian lyricists in Abboud Zeitoune’s “The dawood_barkho.jpgMusic Pearls of Beth-Nahrin.” I walked up the stairs, introducing myself, as he gazed at me smiling. Within seconds, he took me in his arms for what seemed like a long ten minute bear hug. There, the ice had been broken.

“Modee B’Shatyat,” he asked? I noticed he was sipping tea, so I opted to have the same. Prior to this day, we had spoken several times over the telephone to discuss a research project I had been working on. But as time went on, Dawod himself became the “subject,” an important one, might I add.

“Before there was war, there was love
Before words were ever spoken, there was sound
And to sound, music was born
And thus music brings passion to lovers, peace to brokenness and hope to the desolated”

Born Dawod Barkho Haron in the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, a.k.a. “DoDo Toronto,” his family background is one of caliber, wealth and prominence in and out of the Assyrian community. Facing turmoil, Iraq would have its way in giving to the world some of its finest sons and daughters, one being Dawod who found himself a new immigrant in Canada, searching for a new beginning, leaving everything behind, except his creativity and memories.

Constructing a life in an unfamiliar land can make one a great performer who uses particular ways simply to reconstruct the existing space. As an artist, Dawod has used creation as a mean to distill his experiences in a frame that became much like a page in a diary. And in making a still image of the familiar, he connected to his audience by extracting imaginative participation that allowed them to recreate the space and time of their own original performances.

The years that followed would be some of the most prominent years for Dawod in putting together song lyrics and music composition, making “Le Mansheneh Khoubakh” by Edmond Sezen his first hit. To the Assyrian music, it added a new dimension to its literacy, and to a woman, it tore a page from her heart. But to the man who had written such impeccable songs, these were expressions from his salvaged life ~ tracing roots to his past, longing for a love that had not yet been made, and the distance that had frozen between him and his family.

Dawod has been a musician for as long as he can remember. When asked, he is very passive about it as if it is second nature to him it runs in his family. By music classification, Dawod defines himself classical, although his “A” list songs have also catered to Assyrian folklore, dishing out innumerable top hits on a silver platter.

In observing famous Assyrians, in the last few years Canada has been home to some of the finest Assyrian musicians, lyricists, writers, and singers. Dawod, a man whose depth is as far-reaching as the sea, is not only on top of his game, but he has refined pop culture, blending his powerful ingredients of classic and folklore to create successful careers for many artists.

I believe that art, if not to change the world, definitely has the ability to leave a lasting effect on the mind of the viewer. That in the context of contemporary society, self-portraits become a search for self-definition and, I, as a negotiator (writer) between the public and the private man learned that the real secret to a man’s success lies in the sacrum of his heart. As a result of such unconscious behavior, I have now come to know that Dawod has created the song that lovers beckon to and a thousand “khiggeh” that weddings entertain to. In conclusion, at the end of my interview I came to find out that the “Iron Man” who wears his armor very tight and holds his shield steady is tenderhearted.

Song contributions: Sargon Gabriel, Janan Sawa, Juliana Jendo, Walter Aziz, Johnny Talia, Issam Arrabo, Ramsen Sheno, George Gindo, Adonee Odisho, Edmon Sezen, Rita Dawoud, Tony Gabriel, Munadhel Tomika, Talal Graish, Faris Esho, Shabeh Lawando, Odi Youel, Ramis Bet-Shmuel, Moshi Goriel, Toma Gilyana, Hadeel Toma, Julie Yousif, Emmanuel Bet-Younan, Isam Hormez, and coming up for Evin Aghassi, Johnny Youkhana, Faris Younadim, Ninos Shamoun, Joan “Bull Bull” David, Shant Esho, Bassam Al Rakani, Yousip Eliya, William Yousif, Thamer Romaya, Mazen Enishkaya, Bjorn Kando, Nofel Shamoun (Germany), Albert Sada, Arkan, Charles Toma, Livon Oshana, Phillipe William, Odi Simon, Ayad Algoshi, Albert Ninwaya, Odisho and Sonia Odisho, Isam Sawa, and Nofel (Canada).

Style: Classic, Assyrian Folklore

~ Helen Talia
Chicago