International Women’s Day: Role models from Iran

Let’s not forget that many of us take it as a given to be sitting in a gender-mixed audience, listening to a single female voice.

Let’s not forget about the joy of dancing together in public.

Let’s not forget about the freedom to give concerts, without having to ask for a permit from an institution.

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, we hereby present some female role models from the music of Iran.


Let’s start with some news first:

Iranian Female Composers Association (IFCA) was established in 2017 by four female identifying Iranian composers: Anahita Abbasi, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, Gity Razaz, and Aida Shirazi. IFCA is a platform to support, promote, and celebrate Iranian women in music through concerts, public performances, installations, interdisciplinary collaborations, and workshops. It creates a welcoming space for Iranian female composers around the globe.

Festival Female Voice of Iran, Berlin
2nd edition, November 8 – 11, 2018

Moji is a DJ and producer of electronic music in Berlin, originally hailing from the North of Iran.
He is in love with the emotional style of dance music yet swims in between the club and the comfort of your couch. On this very day, he releases his latest set, celebrating women’s voices from Iran.
Here you can listen to his previous one:

Nezhat Amiri
is Iran’s first female conductor, who gave her first public performance on a large scale in 12 years at Tehran’s most prestigious concert hall during the State Fajr music festival in January.
She says: „Music in my country is like a child without parents, like an orphan.“ The conductor smashing Iranian taboos over women, and music


Aida Khorsandi
is a pianist, music teacher and researcher from Iran, currently living in Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Arts in Tehran and has obtained her master’s degree in Music, Mind and Technology at the University of Jyväskylä/Finland. She has done research about music related nostalgic experiences of young migrants in Germany and Finland. Her current research project includes collecting lullabies from various different regions of Iran.
In her article, based on interviews with young female musicians, Khorsandi talks about the difficulties for women in Iran’s current music scene, and reflects a fraction of the daily concerns of the female musicians.
Women in Iran’s music scene


is a pop-rock singer based in Tehran. In her interview with FRANCE 24 Observers she said: „Taking risks to reach my goals is part of who I am. I feel like I have to push back against the red lines in our society, doing my best to shift them step by step. It’s an obligation that I have to myself, but also to the world in which I live.“

The Iranian singers shrugging off their headscarves


Aida Nosrat
is a singer and violin player from Tehran, currently based in France. She was born in 1983 in Tehran and started singing at 7. At 15 she chose the violin as her professional instrument and entered Tehran Symphony Orchestra when she was 19 years old. She graduated in music in the year 2001. Together with her husband, the guitar player Babak Amirmobasher, she formed the group Manushan in 2006. Manush (manoush, manouch or manouche) is an Indo-Iraninan name, used in historical Persian books like BON-DA-HESH, SHAH-NAMEH and in anciant Indian VEDAS. Manushan’s music is influenced by flamenco, gipsy jazz and Persian music.


Sepideh Raissadat
is a classical Persian music singer and musician from Tehran, currently based in Toronto/Canada. She was the first female vocalist to have a solo public performance in Iran after the Islamic revolution (Niavaran Concert Hall, Tehran, in 2000). She began studying Persian classical music as a child with the famous Iranian singer Parisa and later with renowned masters Parviz Meshkatian and Mohammad-Reza Lotfi. She began her recording career at the age of 19 with Meshkatian (Konj-e Saburi, 2000), Raissadat obtained a B.A. degree in painting in Iran and holds a B.Mus degree from the University of Bologna and an MA in Ethnomusicology from the University of Toronto. Sepideh has had numerous performances across Europe and North America.


Salome MC
is a musician and interdisciplinary artist from Tehran, based in Seattle/US. She started her artistic journey as the first female hip-hop MC of Iran in 2002. Having graduated from art school in Tehran, she added experimental audio/visual art projects to her field of work after moving to Japan, and had various performances, exhibitions and screenings around the world. Musically she brings Persian/Turkish folk melodies into her rap verses, creating a fusion of urban sounds and fantasy tunes. She participated in 1+1, a worldwide recording project by Norient and Sound Development in Summer 2015, pairing up with Japanese DJ Shing02.
Salome MC: A Quiet Storm


Golnar Shahyar
Born and raised in Tehran at the time of Iran-Iraq war, Golnar Shahyar is a Viennese based vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist. In her music, she mixes Iranian folklore and traditional music with jazz and improvised music. She started her first musical training by playing piano at the age of 11. At 16 she moved with her family to Canada, started her studies in biology and graduated with B.Sc. degree at York University in Toronto. She then moved to Vienna to pursue her musical career. Apart from her own songs in Farsi and English, she sings in Arabic, Kurdish, Türkish, Sephardic and Spanish. In the interview, together with her fellow musician, the guitar player Mahan Mirarab, Shahyar said: „ In Iran, artists are constantly confronted with censorship and political and cultural oppression. Here, we do not belong to the Iranian audience, we really do not belong anywhere. It’s a musical identity that does not have a home anywhere.“


Tara Tiba
is a singer from Tehran, currently based in Perth, Australia.
She was born in Tehran in 1984, shortly after female singers were prohibited from performing in public. She studied Western classical piano as a child and began studying Persian classical singing with one of the country’s most prominent singers, Hengameh Akhavan. Tiba, an architectural graduate, recorded an EP in Tehran in 2010, but due to the prohibition was unable to release it. Moving to Perth in 2012, to pursue her music career freely, Tiba undertook a jazz course at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and in the following year formed her band featuring both Persian classical and jazz musicians.
Siren Song: Iranian born singer Tara Tiba finally has her voice heard


Mahsa Vahdat
is an Iranian singer, currently based in the United States. She graduated from the University of Arts in Tehran, schooled in classical Persian singing and regional folk styles. In her music, she developed her style of fusing traditional and Persian classical music and poetry with her own musical expression. Her album „Songs from a Persian Garden“, which she recorded together with her sister, Marjan Mahdat in the residence of Italian embassy. The album was produced by Erik Hillestad and released by the Norwegian label Kirkelig Kulturverksted (KKV) in 2007.
Mahsa Vahdat recorded her latest album The sun will rise in various locations in Turkey, Spain, Norway, Poland and France.







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