Sprint Long Distance

The Iranian


email us

Sprint Long Distance

Flower delivery in Iran

Fly to Iran

Sehaty Foreign Exchange

    News & views

Life after the revolution

The Independent - London
August 7, 2000

Singer Googoosh was forced into a media exile when Iran became an Islamic republic, but her popularity didn't wane, as this week's BBC Radio selection shows. Here's an interview with Googoosh by Amin Zarghami:

AMIN ZARGHAMI The first question I want to ask is this: after 21 years of not performing, you're returning to the stage. Aren't you afraid?

GOOGOOSH Yes, very. My fear is that I will fail to return all the love and support I've received from people over the years, while at the same time maintaining my own image and allowing for something new.

AZ When I searched the internet for "Googoosh", 990 sites came up. Most of them just post up your songs; there is very little information available about the person rather than the artist. Could you tell us a bit about this person?

G I was born in 1950 on Sarcheshmeh Street, in an old and worn- down part of Tehran, to Azerbaijani parents - immigrants from the former Soviet Union. When I was two, they separated. Because of my father's profession - he was an acrobat and an entertainer - I grew accustomed to the stage early on, and I was part of his act until I was three. I began doing impersonations of some of the singers of the time. When my father discovered this talent, he put me on stage. So I've been on stage as a paid professional since I was three.

AZ Have you any siblings?

G I had one brother who, at the age of 24, was struck by heart rheumatism and passed away. I have three half-brothers on my father's side and a brother and sister on my mother's side.

AZ There is very little mention of your mother: where does she fit into your life?

G Because my mother was separated from my father when I was so young, I never really got a chance to live with her. She later remarried. As a result, I didn't see my mother until I was about 13. For a while I was even told that my mother had passed away - maybe so that I wouldn't ask for her.

Because I lived with my stepmother, I didn't have a very good home life. But I was occupied with school and performances, and was kept busy with household chores. I was also in charge of one of my brothers; in some sense I was actually his mother. I did not get the opportunity to care for my own son the way I did for him.

AZ Where does the name "Googoosh" come from?

G "Googoosh" is an Armenian boy's name. It seems, though, that there was a problem registering this name - the authorities wouldn't accept it. As a result, my registered name is Faegheh, but since the day I was born everyone had called me Googoosh.

AZ Let's talk about the 20 years since the revolution. What were you doing? Why were you sitting on a couch in an apartment?

G I don't know. Maybe because of the peculiar situation in which I had found myself. I had been forbidden from performing and my material had been banned. So I chose to stay home, to take care of the house, to read, and generally keep myself occupied. Because I did not intend to leave my country, I had to learn to adapt to a new life. Many people would tell me that singers who began their careers much later in life than I did were choosing to leave because they could not endure not being able to perform. They would ask how it was that I, who had always been on stage, managed to adapt. I guess this was a gift I was given from God.

AZ Were you satisfied with this life, or were you depressed? In footage of you taken at the time by the late Mr Alampour, who was one of your biggest fans, you are seen crying.

G Yes, I was depressed for a while, I guess until the early 1990s when I met Massoud Kimiai [her husband]. He saw my sadness, and later told me that it was as if the flower of my soul had withered and he couldn't bear to see me in that state. He was the one who revived that flower within me. In fact, on our first date he took me back into a recording studio and after all those years I went to a private studio, put on my headphones, and started to sing. This had an overwhelming effect on me and gradually an energy spread within me. I was also drawing from the love I'd received from people since the end of the war. It was this support which brought me out of my depression.

AZ In the years after the revolution, before meeting Mr Kimiai, were you on your own or were you married?

G I was married, to a man from whom I was separated in 1989. I lived alone for two years before being with Kimiai, although I had known him for many years and had been on his sets. [He is a director.]

AZ It seems that over these years your personal views have changed. In your press conference, for example, you talked about your views on poetry. How would you describe your intellectual process? What is different about Googoosh now?

G I don't know. I can't completely explain this process because it was so gradual. If I may sidetrack for one second, I would like to respond to another question I have often been asked. People wonder if I ever sang publicly during these last 20 years. I do remember, one time, being part of a large choir at the time when Khoramshahr was liberated. I was singing with the people in the streets and chanting with joy. I think that was the first time, united with the people, that I sang publicly [after the revolution]. But back to your question: that process, I think, was the result of years of reading and living in a country where people are constantly affected by change and uncertainty. If you compare the children who grew up in Iran to those who were raised elsewhere you would see that they have entirely different understandings of the world around them. I think that this is a result of social conditions. Bear in mind that I have had meditative experiences as well, be it before or after the revolution. I have had beautiful relationships with my own God and in my solitude I have developed the ability to overcome difficulties with peace.

My comments on poetry in my press conference were mainly the result of two things, the first being my age. I'm not 28 anymore. I'm passing 50, and that is the perspective from which I see things. However, the poetry to which... well, I guess I shouldn't say poetry because poetry is something else, whose masters are people like Ahmad Shamlu and Sepehri. I should say songwriting. Unfortunately, during these years I haven't heard any significant or noteworthy works. What I would have wanted would be for those good songwriters of our period to have been around to witness the hardships of these last years, which I'm sure would have had a tremendous impact on them and their work.

AZ When you say that you are a meditative person, what sort of meditation are you referring to?

G I have tried a number of them. The Islamic form, which I have practised since childhood - I went to Mecca in 1972 and 1976, and to Karbala in 1976. I went to India in the years before the revolution. I've been interested in books on India, and in their music - of course I don't mean the popular music in their films. I read a lot about Zen philosophy. Through these means I tapped into what I had inside of myself.

AZ Did you have a spiritual guide outside of yourself?

G No... it's God.

AZ Who have the important people in your life been? You mentioned Sepehri.

G Around the time of the revolution, when Sepehri was not yet well known, I worked with an old friend on some of his poems, putting them to song. But after awhile, Sepehri fever had spread in our country: his work was used in so many ways that his words became worn. So we decided not to touch his work anymore so that we could conserve its dignity and sacredness for ourselves. With regard to other influences in my life, my father is certainly one of the people who had the greatest impact on me, seeing as I lived with him for such a long time. Also, there were the people I saw on the stage at the time. I started acting in movies at the age of seven and had a lead role - I even dubbed my own voice. I would later dub quite a few movies, including Hayley Mills's films, and for a while she became a fixation for me. Because my father was a comedian, Charlie Chaplin was also always an important figure in my life, and still is. He represented poverty, beauty, and bittersweet humour.

AZ Your father, himself, is he a bitter or sweet memory?

G He is a sweet memory with bitter parts.

AZ Was he a difficult person?

G Not at all, but he chose a difficult life for me, without intending to. I think mostly because he was uneducated and didn't know any better, he didn't think to put his child in an art school. Maybe if I had academic training things would have turned out better for me.

AZ When you decided to return to Iran in 1980, your personal life changed drastically. If you were at that point again, would you stay?

G No, the same thing would happen, because I never planned to do any of the things that I did. Whatever I felt, that was what I did, and I'm convinced that my instincts never failed me.

AZ How is it that you were allowed to leave Iran? How did you get permission to make a film abroad, or did you even need such permission?

G I didn't get a permit from anyone. It was reported on the internet that I wrote a letter requesting a work permit, that I was granted that permit. However, there was no letter. It was implied that it would be all right for me to make a film though, and because of my optimism in light of the democratic changes in Iran in the last two years I'm confident that I can participate in this project if I respect the principles of the Islamic government. While I am living in that country, I can still act in films. But I have no official permission.

AZ How is permission given by implication?

G Massoud Kimiai spoke to his producer about making a film for the private sector and about my being in it. The person in charge of this private sector got in touch with the relevant authorities and they approved the project. This is why our contract was signed. If they didn't have this approval, the contract would not have been signed and that's where the indirect permission comes from.

AZ In the years since you've been silenced and banned, your popularity has grown immensely - not only in Iran but also around the world. Why do you think this is?

G I still wonder how someone with my background can suddenly be cut off and for 21 years have no media access, and the result ends up being so contrary to what was intended. It is a mystery to me.

AZ These waves of love and support from the people you spoke of, how did they reach you?

G In daily encounters on the street. People would see me, they would recognise me, and they would show their love. That was a direct contact. But the support I spoke of at the press conference, well, I didn't have the internet, nor do I even know how to work a computer, nor did anyone fax me, but I did get messages from visitors coming from abroad. These were the indirect but equally important waves which kept me going.

AZ What is the new style of music you were talking about in your press conference?

G The Iranian artists working in LA now - of course, not all of them - seem to be undecided about where they want their work to go. I think that this is in part because culture grows where the people are. In LA, there are not many Iranians. As a result they are searching for a right path, but haven't found it. I haven't sung for 21 years, but I have chosen a musical style which combines rock with baroque and jazz. I am also experimenting. I don't know if it will be successful or not - the people decide that.


 MIS Internet Services

Web Site Design by
Multimedia Internet Services, Inc

 GPG Internet server

Internet server by
Global Publishing Group.