Thursday, March 15, 2012

Googoosh: Iranian Diva in DC Saturday Night March 17

Iran’s nuclear program and its films, such as the Oscar winning A Separation, get plenty of American media attention.  Iranian music, not so much so.  While some Iranian filmmakers have managed, despite the mullahs, to create critically acclaimed works seen around the world, Iranian musicians  who have not left their country are forced underground and have difficulty making an impact.  But some Iranian musicians now living in exile, once were part of the international cultural conversation, or at least popular in large parts of the non-English speaking world—Russia, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iraq.   Saturday night March 17, Iranian singer Googoosh will be at DAR Constitution Hall.

While she does not have a current  major label release, the now Los Angeles-based 62-year-old singer, born Faegheh Atashin, the daughter of Azerbaijan immigrants,  was once a huge star in pre-Khomeini  Iran, beginning in the late 1960s. Starring in movies, releasing records, creating fashion trends and beloved by young girls, she has been described as a combination of Madonna, Barbara Streisand, and Marilyn Monroe.  However, then the revolution occurred. From 1979 to 2000 she remained in Iran, but the Islamic Republic never allowed her to sing. By 2000 she resumed singing and eventually moved to the US.  Googoosh is more than just a lounge diva. Hipster reissue specialist label BMusic/Finders Keepers has put out a collection of her singles and B-sides, and while the synth backing on some of her current material smacks of schmaltzy Euro-pop, her Azeri Turkish as well as Persian vocals display a trace of Persian classical vocal traditionalism and a unique artistry that is her own.  Live she performs songs from multiple eras, and the event will definitely have a nostalgia vibe.  But no matter what she's singing I find her vocals as interesting or more than say, current rock/dance critics fave EMA, who is going to be at U. St. Music Hall Saturday night.

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