Purple Heart

By: Helen Talia

The color purple (benawshaya, Assyrian) accompanied by the symbol of love can only be a privilege for any recording artist to sing about a young Assyrian lover that embraces the passion for his nation and martyrdom in one breathe. These are the lyrics of the song “Zowaaya Goubya Alee,” a soon-to-be-released hit by Jowan David, a.k.a. Bol Bol, penned by OC_Joe.

Like other young songwriters, OC_Joe followed in the footsteps of the earlier generation of lyricists and arrangers. His long list of favorites includes Ninos Nirari, Nashaat Younan, Edward Mousa, Shimon Barkho, Dr. Sameh Barcham, Aprim Bet-Yousip, Maqsud Eshaya, Yousip Minasheh, Orahim Lazar, Sargon Esha, and his pals Dawod Barkho and Amir Younan. But this young man’s qualities were kept hidden while a teenager, which is uncommon for a zestful heart to keep the thrusts of emotions so deeply-locked within the barracks of his heart, until his public affirmation came when sharing his talent with singer Shabeh Lawando in the song “Bret Amee,” and Sargon Gabriel’s “Chertelah” becoming his first hit. Soon after, he found himself working with the likes of Emmanuel Bet-Younan, Ramsen Sheeno, Juliana Jendo, Salim Sefo, Adonee Odisho, Jowan David (Bol Bol) and Albert Mansour in United States, and Hadeel Sandy, Philip William, David Khoshaba, and Rani from Iraq.

Born Yousep Youkana, OC_Joe shares memories of his birthplace Nineveh, the once ancient Assyrian capital, while making Chicago his second home. I first met OC_Joe in Istanbul in 2008 during what I often refer to as my “Thirty Years in Exodus” trip to my birth land Iraq. Among the many who shared this pilgrimage, OC_Joe was not hard to spot, even before he had formally introduced himself to me. This young man was infused with energy and enthusiasm, quickly becoming our tour guide in Turkey and Iraq. I could tell then that he was someone who possessed a strong character and had what it took to get us across the border, racing between cab drivers and border check points speaking multiple languages, all the while accommodating the elderly and the women. I believe OC_Joe’s motto is travel lightly and be quick on your feet to respond to uncertainties.

But such trips are not uncommon for this man. In 2006, he had traveled back to Iraq to work with various Assyrian recording artists to help them produce their own original sounds, while marketing them in Diaspora. Today, his contributions are widespread. Having no professional musical background, OC_Joe hopes to grow in talent and to continue working with the Assyrian song.

To learn more about OC_Joe, visit www.myspace.com/OCJOE1

Dedicated to the loving memory of “Nishra” Zirqo

* Zowaaya (member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement)
* The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. Source: Wikipedia.