From Kazakhstan Encyclopedia
Template:Infobox musical artist Template:Chinese
Arken Abdulla (born July 8, 1978; Template:Lang-ug; Template:Zh) is an Uyhghur musician specializing in a fusion of music styles that integrates traditional Uyghur, world music, pop, and Spanish flamenco.
Arken was born in Qarghiliq, Kashgar, Xinjiang, China. He started to study guitar in his childhood, beginning at age 11; the guitar developed in him a passion for music. As he did not have sheet music or textbooks to learn from, he would listen to a wide variety of music from around the Asian continent, and then learn to play the guitar by ear.
Arken attended the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing, where he joined the university's guitar club. Having been educated in Uyghur medium ethnic schools, Arken was not fluent in Mandarin Chinese at the time, but still found no trouble with connecting with musically inclined guitar club friends. Arken and three fellow students joined to form a band, singing popular rock-and-roll or well-known English songs at a bar in Baishiqiao on the weekends, earning enough money to support himself. Arken would also perform at inter-university music competitions.
Arken graduated from university in 1999 and found work as a civil servant in the Kashgar Prefecture government. However, two months later he resigned from his job to become a freelance musician. Because he was very fond of music, he aimed to pursue a professional music career as a singer-songwriter. Arken returned to Beijing with dual goals of learning English and organizing a band. His band was formed a few months later, and they performed routinely in a bar known as the Jam House for four years.
Arken emerged in the national spotlight in 2002 while competing in the Challenge Cup, a music competition jointly supported by Japan's Fuji Television and China's Beijing Television Arts Program, as an original composition singer-songwriter. Arken won the championship seven times in a row, and was crowned as the overall champion of the year. Arken was invited to participate in the Sino-Japanese Cultural Exchange in Japan, on behalf of the Chinese athletes, in the same year, and received critical acclaim for his performance.
Arken released his first album, Dolan Out of the Desert, on August 7, 2002. The album, and the single, Dolan, were widely praised and given several awards and recognitions, including the Nanning International Folk Song Art Festival Best Music Album Award, Best Folk Adaption Award, and ten Golden Melody Awards.
In 2003, Arken participated in the People's Republic of China Ministry of Culture National Vocal Competition and won the popular award. In that same year, his work Love To Death won the Shanghai Asia Music Festival Asian New Singer Competition Best Award and Asian New Singer Competition Silver Award. In April of that year, Arken's band went to the Beijing Agricultural University for a charity performance to raise funds for aid to earthquake victims in Maralbexi County of Xinjiang.
In 2004, Arken was invited to perform for the CCTV Spring Festival Gala along with Tianshan Snow Lotus Group, an Uyghur music group, where he sang the Xinjiang folk song Alamuhan in Mandarin. That same year, Arken released his second album, Thousand and One Nights. In June, Arken published "The Collection of Arken's Music Notes". Also in June, Arken began the "Tengritagh Heavenly Music Tour" in Xinjiang. In August, Arken and his band performed in Turpan. In November, Arken performed the musical piece "The Closest People to the Sun" at a concert. A VCD was made to be sold in Xinjiang. Arken also organized a charity event in his hometown of Kashgar, from which he donated all income to a school for orphans there. For this community service, in June 2004 he was awarded the title of Kashgar Youth Ambassador.
In 2005, Arken was again invited to perform for the CCTV Spring Festival Gala, along with Tianshan Snow Lotus Group, this time singing Xinjiang folk song Lift Your Veil in both Uyghur and Mandarin. That May, Arken represented his hometown as the Kashgar Youth Ambassador for Xinjiang government's 50th anniversary tribute film Brothers and Sisters; Arken wrote the film score music for the movie and sang the theme song "Kashgar". That year, Arken released his third solo album, City Night.
Arken released his fourth studio album, Döngköwrük's Story, in 2006. Arken released his fifth studio album, Blog, in 2007. Arken was awarded Golden Disc Awards for his album music from 2005 to 2007. Arken released his sixth studio album, Thousand Buddha Caves, in 2008.
Following this, Arken took a break from his music career to settle down. Arken studied flamenco guitar in Spain in 2008. For a year Arken studied music composition at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, from which he graduated in 2010. During this time Arken also got married and started a family.
Arken returned to the music scene in 2012, beginning with a grand 'Night of the City' concert at the Poly Theatre in Beijing celebrating ten years of his musical artist career. Arken and his band played over 20 songs for the concert. The live house was fully packed, and attendees traveled from as far as Xinjiang to attend. Arken released his seventh studio album, Footprint, in 2013.
Arken is also active professionally elsewhere in the music industry. Arken is an associate director of Chinese Flamenco Association. Arken also serves as a judge, and as a mentor to select contestants, on the Uyghur reality singing competition TV show The Voice of the Silk Road.
Arken's music is not merely limited to the traditional styles, but is free and surpasses its ethnic roots. Using Spanish Flamenco as a base, he has created a new music style distinct from the traditional ones, making his work more modern and international. Different from what most people think of as traditional Uyghur music, his music has a distinct, international flare. His music is a "mixture" of Uyghur, Turkish, other Central Asian, South Asian, Arab, Russian, Latin and Chinese, as well as rock, jazz, and hip-hop styles. Arken is a pioneer in integrating Uyghur music with Spanish flamenco guitar.
Arken's lyrics are typically strictly apolitical. Arken sings lyrics in both Uyghur and Mandarin Chinese. He is famous for his romantic songs, earning him the title of 'Prince of Love Songs'.
Arken is a Muslim by faith. Arken is married and the father of three children. On February 22, 2011, Arken's wife gave birth to triplets: two boys and a girl. The eldest child, a boy, is named Ilkar; the second child, also a boy, is named Iltar; and the youngest child, a girl, is named Zilale
Arken Music Group
Arken has formed a band known as the Arken Music Group whose members perform with him. Its members are as follows:
- Drummer: Alex Morris
- Bassist: Aikebaier
- Ai Jieke: Adilia Abliz
- Guitarist: Sa Li, Ya Sen
- Keyboard: Luo Ning
- Flute: Zhao Xiong
- Percussionist: Yi Bu, Yi Li Ya
- Dolan Out of the Desert (Template:Lang-ug; Template:Zh) (August 7, 2002)
- 1,001 Nights / Arabian Nights (Template:Lang-ug; Template:Zh) (March 9, 2003)
- City Night (Template:Lang-ug; Template:Zh) (June 2005)
- Grand Bazaar Story / Döngköwrük's Story (Template:Zh) (Mat 2006)
- Blog (Template:Lang-ug; Template:Zh) (2007)
- Thousand Buddha Caves (Template:Lang-ug; Template:Zh) (2008)
- Footprint (Template:Zh) (2013)
- Arken: Guitar Prince (April 2004)
- City Night (Template:Lang-ug; Template:Zh) (June 2005)
- At the end of 2002, at Nanning's "International Folk Music Art Festival", Arken won Best Individual Album Awards for his first album (The Dolan Out of the Desert).
- October 2003: Arken won a first prize in the area of Popular Music from the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China at the 2003 National Vocal Music Competition.
- November 2003: Arken's work "Uyghur Girl" was ranked among the Best Ten Golden Hits Award.
- November 2003: Arken's work "Men öley" won the Best New Artist's WorkAward at the 6th Annual Shanghai Zhenmei Cup Asian Music Festival.
- November 2003: Arken won the Silver Award at the "Asia New Singer Competition" at the 6th Annual Shanghai Zhenmei Cup Asian Music Festival.
- 2005-2007: Arken was awarded Golden Disc Awards for his music.
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