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In the war-torn region of Southern Sudan, Emmanuel Jal was born into the life of a child solider on an unknown date in the early 1980s. Through unbelievable struggles, Emmanuel managed to survive and 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 four studio albums: Gua, Ceasefire, Warchild and See Me Mama. His music can also be heard alongside Coldplay, Gorillaz, and Radiohead on the fundraising Warchild – Help a Day in the Life album, as well as in three ER episodes, the National Geographic documentary God Grew Tired of Us and in the feature film Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio. He is also featured on John Lennon’s Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, amongst the likes of U2, REM and Lenny Kravitz.
Emmanuel’s live appearances have included Live 8, Nelson Mandela's 90th Birthday Concert and the One Concert for his Holiness the Dalai Lama. Emmanuel has collaborated and performed alongside artists such as Peter Gabriel, Nelly Furtado, DMC Joss Stone, Nile Rodgers and Alicia Keys.
Emmanuel is in demand as a speaker and has addressed the UN, US Congress, the Carter Centre and the highest tiers of several governments. He has been involved with the British Council, Clinton Global Initiative, Adolescent Girls Initiative (World Bank in association with the Nike Foundation), Child Soldiers Initiative and the launch of Ericsson’s Refugees Reunited Software. He was one of the faces of Amnesty International’s 2010 World Refugee Day Campaign and appeared at Alicia Keys’ Keep a Child Alive Black Ball 2010 in London.
In 2011 he took part in the Oxfam Climate Change Campaign, CNN Freedom Project, Amnesty International ‘Toast to Freedom’ single and spoken alongside Kofi Annan and Martti Ahtisaari for CMI in Finland, Matt Dillon for Refugees International in Washington DC and Angelina Jolie at the ICC for Cinema for Peace. In 2012 Emmanuel was made a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum continues to speak at high level conferences for Rotary International, the G20 summit, One Young World and has most recently been invited to speak at Richard Branson’s Virgin Unite conference on Necker Island in May 2014.
Emmanuel has continued to support and work alongside Amnesty International as one of their main spokespeople.
Emmanuel’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 Radio 4 and many more outlets worldwide. His 2009 TED Global talk has achieved tens of thousands of YouTube hits. 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.
Emmanuel Jal appears as the adult lead in the major motion picture Africa United, a Pathé, UK Film Council and BBC Films presentation in association with Warner Bros, released in October 2010.
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. Gua Africa is now fundraising to complete phase 2 of ‘Emma Academy’ the education centre in Leer named after the British aid worker Emma McCune who rescued Emmanuel from a life as a child soldier.
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 – Peter Gabriel, Alicia Keys, George Clooney, Richard Branson, President Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan and many more. In 2012 Emmanuel 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 been awarded the Calgary Peace Prize, the Humanitarian Award from the Hunt Institute, The Dresden Peace Prize, The Mattie Stepanek Peacemaker Prize and has been honored by Ban Ki Moon at the UN for his peace efforts in South Sudan. Emmanuel continues to tour hundreds of schools universities and communities worldwide as part of his 'We Want Peace' educational tour across the US, Europe, Canada, Latin America and Africa.
Emmanuel 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. Jal has also just finished filming alongside Reese Witherspoon as a lead role in 'The Good Lie', a major motion picture which follows the journey of three 'Lost Boys' from South Sudan to the US, due for worldwide release through Warner Bros in September 2014. Emmanuel is currently recording his 5th studio album due for release at the same time.