For the third year running, DAC is proud to present Let Her Sing® 2019: A Celebration of Female Voices.
Fourteen female vocalists from Iran, Kurdistan, and Afghanistan, and a group of exceptional international musicians will come together on September 21 to celebrate the female voice; suppressed, censored, and threatened in parts of the world. Join us for an evening of exciting music and solidarity for the female voice. Our lineup this year features Paris-based Ariana Vafadarii, London-based Azadeh , Bay Area-based Iranian Women Folk Singers (Azadeh Farpour, Hanna Davarmanesh, Mima Goodarz, and Sanaz Mardkar), London-based Elaha Soroor, Vienna-based Golnar Shahyar, Bay Area-based Işık Berfin and Ozden Oztoprak, UAE-based Layla Kardan, Texas-based Mehrnoosh مهرنوش, Paris-based Niaz Nawab, and Los Angeles-based Shahrzad Sepanlou.
Our gifted Musical Director Erwin Khachikian will return to manage our stellar vocalists and musicians. Once again, the celebrated film and theater actress and director Ana Bayat will be our Master of Ceremonies. Graphic Design by Navid Ghaem Maghami.
About the Artists
Azadeh:Azadeh's artist career to date has seen her win national competitions, embark on brave solo UK tours with grammy award winning Robert Cray, the legendary Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Melanie C, the 25th anniversary tour of Deacon Blue, Tom Paxton and Status Quo. She has performed both European and UK festivals and in iconic venues including The Union Chapel, The Barbican theatre, Liverpool Echo Arena, and London’s Roundhouse.
As well as writing for her own album, Azadeh also writes for various artists, studios, vocal groups and regularly features on a wide genre of albums. Azadeh featured on highly acclaimed rapper Lil Dicky's song 'Really Scared' and has recently written for and recorded a song with devotional singer songwriter and grammy award winning, Snatam Kaur.
Persian by origin, Azadeh has also grafted her own unique blend of western folk inspired Persian songs. She was selected by British Council supported, Edinburgh Iranian Festival as the Artist of 2015 and regularly features on BBC Persian. Azadeh currently sings and tours in Faithless front man – Maxi Jazz’s new band with the UB40 tour being their latest support. This year sees Azadeh releasing her highly anticipated solo EP.
Işık Berfin and Özden Öztoprak: Işık & Özden are a Bay-Area based mother & daughter duo of musicians. Their music comes from the very special bond between them. They hail from Turkey’s ethnic minority Kurdish-Alevi community, which has historically suffered persecution.
Their distinct Kurdish repertoire of songs stem from a Sufi spiritual tradition that has passed down behind closed doors, from Özden’s grandparents to Berfin. They exemplify how immigration to California allowed for their voices to openly be heard. Işık & Ozden perform with a variety of instruments including the Baglama, a kind of lute, and Daf, a type of drum.
Layla Kardan: UAE-based artist Layla Kardan is an international star with a global message, Layla marries her smoky soulful voice with pop, jazz, Middle Eastern and R&B rhythms and melodies for an evocative and achingly poignant sound. With her music she aims to empower women around the globe having already escaped her musical cultural shackles.
Kardan has received raving reviews from the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, Mojeh, and Savoir Flair. Emirates Woman magazine honored Kardan as Emirates Woman Artist of the Year 2017 and Esquire Middle East honored her with their 2018 Music Award.
A philanthropist at heart, Kardan also worked with UNICEF MENA for ‘Break Their Fast’ Campaign in support of refugee children in the region during Ramadan.
Mehrnoosh: Mehrnoosh is a pop Persian singer from Tehran, Iran. She currently resides in Texas. She is signed to the record label Avang Records, a California-based company.
Most of Mehrnoosh's songs were recorded in Iran despite the many hardships she had to face as a female vocalist. Prior to her musical work, she taught mathematics at the university level in Iran. She has a master's degree in statistics.
Niaz Nawab: Niaz Nawab is a multi-instrumental musician, singer, and song writer from Tehran, Iran, currently living in Paris, France. She has produced a series of work as a solo artist as well as participated in collaborations with noted artists such as Arshid Azarine and Erwin Khachikian.
Shahrzad Sepanlou: Shahrzad Sepanlou is a gifted Iranian-American singer based in Los Angeles, California. In her music, Shahrzad has opted to walk that risky line between the accessibility of Persian pop and the sophistication of modern pop idioms, at times employing phrase asymmetries and rubato renditions that overlap those of art songs, with courage, and with encouraging success. Her fluent and seemingly effortless executions are evidence of natural expressive skills and genuine appreciation for style and musical language. In that respect alone, she remains a rare and daring figure in her choice of lyrics and composers among singers of Iranian origin.
Shahrzad was born in Tehran and migrated to the United States in the mid-1980s. Currently, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. She is the daughter of Iranian poets Mohammad-Ali Sepanlou and Partow Nooriala. Like so many of her generation, Shahrzad experienced revolution, war, and repression, and her music often reflects these experiences.
Elaha Soroor: Elaha is an Afghan pop singer. She came to be in the spotlight after being featured in a musical reality show Afghan Star, a television program similar to the Idol franchise.
After moving to Kabul with her family in 2007 Soroor began to develop her passion for music. She studied at music school where she specialized in traditional Afghan folk music whilst also studying western harmony, and started performing with Afghani group, Aryan. All this was done in secret without the consent or support of her family, who were against her performing as a professional musician. Upon finding out, they prevented her from singing for a year.
Soroor's voice was discovered by the judges of the TV talent show Afghan Star in 2009, where she gained popularity nationally among Afghan communities around the world, being the first female Hazara singer to perform on national TV.
Her first two original songs, "Abi Jan" and "Be Bahana" were released in 2009. In 2010 she recorded "Sangsar", a song which openly criticises the "stoning law" practiced by some Muslim communities. This led to fundamentalist groups attempting to assassinate her and members of her family on several occasions.
Golnar Shahyar: Golnar Shahyar is an Iranian/Canadian vocalist, performer, composer and lyricist who specializes in combining her musical roots with jazz and improvised music. After getting her bachelor degree in Biology in Toronto, Canada, she moved to Vienna in 2008 to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Starting relatively late in the field of music, she has managed to reach the international stages and festivals within a very short time. Parallel to her performances she finished her studies in voice and music education, minoring guitar performance, at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. Her dedication to constantly create new cultural and musical dialogs in her work brought her many collaborations with various internationally renowned musicians both on stage as well as music production. As the lead singer of her bands, Sormeh, Choub, Gabbeh, Sehrang, Golnar & Mahan and her solo act GOLNAR, she has co-produced and published four CDs, has won many nominations and been selected by NASOM program 6 years in the row to represent Austrian music scene world wide.
In addition to concerts, she also did many collaborations in dance productions as performer/composer, has collaborated with Volkstheater Wien as actor/composer, and has been invited as workshop/musical director in "Female Voice of Iran Festival" (Zeitgenössische Oper Berlin), "Common Sound Festival" (Deutsche Oper Berlin), "Carneval of Fear Festival". Being for almost 10 years in the field of music, performance and education, Golnar Shahyar is considered to be a multifaceted musician who has put dialog, personal expression and storytelling at the core of her artistic work.
As a trans-cultural artist, Golnar has also been invited as one of the speakers in the "Tag der Menschenrechte" at the university of Music and Performing Arts Vienna to discuss human rights in the context of culture.
Ariana Vafadari: Ariana Vafadari was born in Iran and came to France, her mother's country at the age of five. She graduated as a civil engineer and then studied at the Academy of Music in Paris and at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin.
Ariana’s concert work includes many recitals with the great pianists Emmanuel Strosser, Claire Desert and Christian Ivaldi (Berlioz, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Britten, Weill, Haendel, Debussy…) in Japan, Latvia, Germany and France.
Ariana also sang Mozart's Requiem with Vincent Barthes (ONPL), Les Chants d’Auvergne by Canteloube with the Auvergne Orchestra with Ari van Beek, the Folk Songs of Berio with Florent Boffard (toured in Brésil), Stabat Mater of Pergolese in the Salamanca Festival, Shéhérazade and the Hebrew's Mélodies of Ravel with Emmanuel Leducq-Barôme in Texas and Songs and Danses of Death of Moussorgsky with the Baltic Chamber Orchestra and the soloists of the Saint Petersbourg's Philharmonic Orchestra.
Ariana gives high importance to her Iranian culture and has composed songs on the Gathas, Persian poems and the Kurdish Malek Jan’s poetry. Ariana has collaborated with Habib Meftahboushehri, Arman Sigarchi, Leïli Anvar in Strasbourg and performed at Fès (Sacred Music Festival), Théatre de la Ville, La Seine Musicale of Paris, and the Burning Man Festival.
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