Jinda Kengo [L], a Kurdish refugee from Kobane, celebrates as she won the music talent show of the Greater Kurdistan on July 15, 2017 in Sulaimani, the culture capital of the Kurdistan Region. Photo: Kurdsat TV
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – A woman from the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobane, which captivated the world's attention for its brave resistance against ISIS, has won the prestigious music talent show Kurd Idol, beating dozens of other singers from all four parts of Kurdistan.
Jinda Kenco, 26, made it to the final episode of Kurd Idol, a music show aired on the Sulaimani-based Kurdsat TV on Friday night, with millions of Kurds in Kurdistan and around the world watching on TV and online.
Kenco was a conservatoire student in Damascus when the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011 and forced her to leave her studies and return to Kobane.
She fled Kobane to Turkey as the war intensified in late 2014.
“A difficult thing that I experience in my life of being a refugee,” Kenco told Kurdsat TV. “When we left our homeland, when we left Kobane, and when we crossed the border, it was a very bitter experience.”
“Those who have not experienced life in diaspora, they cannot tell what it feels like, the humiliation,” Kenco added.
She won first place on the show after she sang Homeland, a Kurdish song lamenting the fact that Kurds do not have a state of their own.
She lived her childhood in Kobane until she left for Damascus to study music there.
Kenco and her family are now refugees in Turkey.
Sulaimani city, known as the culture capital of the Kurdistan Region, hosted the talent show that lasted months and became the topic of conversations at homes and on social media platforms.
“When I visited Kurdistan, I became so happy. I was honored, and it was my dream,” Kenco said of her visit to the Kurdistan Region from Turkey to take part in the show.
“I have [the chance] to see my people. My brothers and sisters from the other parts of [Kurdistan],” she added, making reference to the Kurds from the four parts of Kurdistan, divided between Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey.
She also dedicated one of the songs she sang to a friend she lost in the Kobane war while the city was under ISIS siege in the fall of 2014.
Video: Jinda Kenco sings in Kurmanji and Sorani dialects of Kurdish language. The first part is a song about the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, called Amed by Kurds.
Young singers from across the Middle East and disapora appeared in the talent show which started in April and aired its final episode on Friday.
Of the hundreds of people who applied to the soon-to-become popular show, only 142 people were selected, and then 17 received the qualification to attend the live show in later stages.
“This is Kurdish music, to tell the world that we are a nation,” Adnan Karim, a Kurdish singer from Kurdistan Region and a member of the judging panel, said about the objective of the show, to introduce Kurds and the rest of the world to the unique nature of Kurdish music.
A diverse group of people took part in the program, representing different Kurdish regions and dialects.
Kenco’s closest rival and co-finalist was Ferzad Mehdiniya, from the Hawraman region of Iranian Kurdistan.
Video: Ferzad Mehdiniya sings in the Hawrami dialect of Kurdish.
Karim said the show was an opportunity for Kurds to be “introduced to one another," as he spoke about the diversity of Kurdish music.
The Kurdish language has several dialects. The majority speak Kurmanji, followed by Sorani, Hawrami, and Zazaki, in no particular order.
“What politics could not [achieve], we were able to,” in this show by bringing Kurds from the four parts of Kurdistan together, said Kani, a female Kurdish singer and also a judge on the program.
Kenco won the support of many admirers at home and abroad who believed she deserved the win.
She was also congratulated by the United States Consulate in Erbil.
“We congratulate Zhinda Kanjo, Kurd Idol 2017, and all the other talented contestants,” the US Consulate said in a Facebook post on Saturday.