“Poets are the true storytellers”- an interview with Mahsa Vahdat

by Charlie Crooijmans

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 16.16.57This Summer at the Houtfestival in Haarlem in the Netherlands, I spoke to the Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdat for VPRO Vrije Geluiden. Internationally she is known for her performances with her sister Marjan Vahdat. In Iran they are not allowed to play in public, only for a female audience. That doesn’t stop her from making music and poetry in her home country. Mahsa also encourages and teaches the Persian vocal art to women in Iran. Since 2007 she is one of the ambassadors of Freemuse.
In the video-interview she tells me about the importance of poetry. Continue reading

Advertisements

Big in Iran – an interview with Rita

Rita at Babel Med

Rita at Babel Med, photo: Jean de Peña

by Charlie Crooijmans

– Marseille. Babel Med is a world music expo and conference from 20-22 of March, in Marseille. The organization likes to program showcases with an interesting story, like the Libyan hiphop crew G.A.B. and Israeli singer Rita Jahanforuz, simply known as Rita. With a career of 25 years, sold-out concerts and multi-platinum records, Rita is one of the Israeli top female singers. Since her album My Joys (2011), she became even big in Iran. As a born Iranian, Rita decided to record a personal album inspired by her Persian heritage. News & Noise joined in at the press conference and learned that her music is more than just showbiz.

Continue reading

Iran vs Israel – an interview with Sahand Sahebdivani

by Charlie Crooijmans

Kingdom of Fire and ClayThe Iranian-Israeli relations are – and always have been – a very complex matter. Of course this is on a political level, but what about the people? To my surprise I met the Dutch-Iranian (or Iranian-Dutch) Sahand Sahebdivani about two weeks ago at a cafe in Amsterdam. He was in a meeting on a project named ‘Kingdom of Fire and Clay’ in which he and his Israeli friend Raphael Rodan will challenge each other with stories from their home country. I know Sahand as a professional storyteller, radio maker and journalist – recently he has been appointed Storyteller of the Year 2014 (Stichting Vertellen). His parents sought political asylum in the Netherlands in the 1980s. Sahand still was a toddler. Years later they had a little tea house at the Jordaan in Amsterdam, where every musician was welcome to jam (see video below). There Sahand could develop his talents as a musician.

Kingdom of Clay premiered at the International Storytelling Festival Amsterdam in November 2013. This month they will perform in Amsterdam and The Hague, followed by a longer tour in the UK in March. I sent Sahand some questions by email about the show. Continue reading

Persian instruments on TV!

iranian-instruments-on-tvby Davide Grosso

Last Saturday, Iranian people were taken by surprise in a strange way. The Good Morning Iran Show for IRIB’s Channel 1, broadcasted music from the group Avaye Parsian (Persian voice)! The group, led by musician Saman Alipour, consists of kamancheh (a bowed string instrument) santoor (a trapezoid-shaped dulcimer) played by wooden hammers and tar (lute). You might think that it is pretty normal to show traditional instruments on TV, but this is really unusual for Iranian people. They were even not sure if they were dreaming or not. For many of them it was the first time they had seen such instruments on national television. Continue reading

Shahin Najafi reached the point of no return

by Charlie Crooijmans

The song Naghi by Persian rapper and poet Shahin Najafi has caused a lot of commotion. The satirical song is written in the form of a prayer to Ali An-Naqi, the tenth of the 12 Shia Muslim Imams, a religious figure highly respected by millions in Iran. In the song Ali An-Naqi should get Iran back on track, solving real problems like sanctions, the rising dollar to nose jobs, and prayer rugs made in China. Soon after the song’s release in May the fatwa is pronounced. Najafi is declared an apostate by religious leaders, a crime punishable by death in Iran. The site Shia-Online, which runs on the regime-controlled .ir domain, has offered a $100,000 reward for anyone who kills Najafi. (Guardian)

Najafi is now residing in Germany. He doesn’t regret releasing the song Naghi and will continue with his music. Here you can read a transcription of an interview with Shahin Najafi by Jian Ghomeshi of CBC Radio One, public radio international of the USA on the 6th of June.

Continue reading

Religion and the taboo on female chant

by Charlie Crooijmans

Since June 2007 the people of Gaza are being confronted with strict morality rules of the Hamas, a fundamental Islamic movement, who governs the Gaza portion of the Palestinian Territories. For example, it is forbidden to participate in the New Star, a talent show broadcast on Palestinian television. This is annoying for pop singers who wants to be heard outside of Gaza. But the situation of the female singers is more than annoying. A female singer is being seen as equal to a prostitute. If they want to sing, they can do it quietly at home in front of the family but not publicly. As we already saw in Afghan Star, the documentary, it can be quite problematic for women to sing in public in Afghanistan, but it doesn’t seem to be any better in Gaza, Iran or orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

Continue reading