Emmanuel Jal Tells Extraordinary Story on New Album

Musician/songwriter/rapper Emmanuel Jal has one of the most extraordinary life-stories you'll ever hear, and has incorporated his experiences on Warchild, his brand new album due out May 12, 2008 (Sonic360/ADA Global). Warchild, recorded in London between 2006 and 2007, was mixed and additionally produced by Grammy winner Neal Pogue (Outkast, Talib Kweli, Stevie Wonder, TLC), and produced by UK-based writer/producer Roachie who co-wrote most of the 13 songs with Jal. 2 songs were produced by UK writer/producer Silvastone (Sway, Blak Twang).

In addition, a full-length documentary on Jal's life, entitled War Child, had its world premiere on February 10 at the Berlin Film Festival, and his autobiography will be published by St. Martin's Press late this year.

Emmanuel Jal was born in war-torn Sudan, and while he doesn't know exactly when, he believes it was in the early 1980s. He was taken from his family home in 1987 when he was six or seven years old, and sent to fight with the rebel army in Sudan's bloody civil war. For nearly five years, he was a "child warrior, " put into battle carrying an AK-47 that was taller than he was.

By the time he was 13, he was a veteran of two civil wars and had seen hundreds of his fellow child soldiers reduced to taking unspeakable measures as they struggled to survive on the killing fields of Southern Sudan. After a series of harrowing events, he was rescued by a British aid worker who smuggled him into Nairobi to raise him as her own. To help ease the pain of what he had experienced, Emmanuel started singing. In 2005, he released his first album, Gua ("peace" in his native Nuer tongue), with the title track broadcast across Africa over the BBC and becoming a number one hit in Kenya. Gua also earned him a spot on Bob Geldof's "Live 8" concert in the UK.

The inspirations for the 13 songs on Warchild are rooted in Jal's impossible past. In Forced to Sin, Jal recounts, "I lived with an AK-47/By my side/Slept with one eye open wide/Run/Duck/Play dead." His love and loyalty for his homeland of Sudan shines in Stronger - "I pledge allegiance/To My Motherland/That I'll do everything possible/To make a stand/Yes I can." Jal pleads with rapper 50 Cent on 50 Cent to be a better role model for his young fans: "You have done enough damage selling crack cocaine/now you got a kill a black man video game/We have lost a whole generation through this lifestyle/now you want to put it in the game for a little child to play..."

From the CD's title track Warchild, "I'm a war child/I believe I've survived for a reason/to tell my story/to touch lives." And, Emma, the album's closer, is a heartbreaking tribute to Emma McCune, the "angel" who rescued Emmanuel.

McCune, who died in 1993 in a car accident in Nairobi, was the subject of a book, "Emma's War, " by Deborah Scroggins, and producer Tony Scott ("TheAssassinationof Jesse James, " "Top Gun") is in pre-production on a film based on the book.

"This one goes to Emma McCune/Angel to the rescue one afternoon/I'm here because you rescued me/I'm proud to carry your legacy/Thank you/Bless you R I Peace."

Prior to the recording of Warchild, Emmanuel's music has been heard alongside Coldplay, Gorillaz, and Radiohead on the fundraising album Warchild - Help a Day in the Life, on John Lennon's Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, on the TV series' ER "Out of Africa" episodes, and most recently in the film Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Jal plans to support the release of Warchild with selected dates in the UK, Europe and North America; details will be announced shortly. In addition, he frequently speaks on college campus about his experiences in an effort to raise awareness of and halt the inhumane treatment of children in Sudan. "I believe I've survived for a reason, " says Jal in Warchild. "To tell my story, to touch lives."

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