Pari Zanganeh
courtesy of Pari Zanganeh

Pari Zanganeh wears a hat instead of a veil to cover her head. She loves Barbara Streisand. And she never meant to become a singer.

Early on, she sang at parties for friends, but she never made too much of her obvious talents. Even when she began studying music at the conservatory of Tehran, she didn’t know what she wanted to do.

But after she lost her sight in a car accident when she was a young woman, her singing took on new importance. “I found that the sound in my life has a big role,” she recalls. “So I went back to my study again — or I should say my teachers, voice teachers, singing teachers they came to me.”

Since then, she’s become a sensation in folk and opera. Above all, she wants to make her audience happy, but she also weaves poetry into her performances and sees her concerts as an education — an opportunity to share what she knows.

Still, she doesn’t take her art — or herself — too seriously. She regards music as an enhancement more than a necessity. “I don’t think singing is very important: even if you don’t sing, the sun will shine, the moon will come out at night, ok. Nothing will change the nature.”

For years, government restrictions prevented her from performing at all. After the ‘79 revolution, women were banned from singing solo: too arousing for men… In light of recent reforms, she’s been allowed to perform again — but for women only.

Pari, who’s big on moderation, thinks that’s good enough for starters.

“For me it doesn’t matter if they are gentlemen or women. I don’t struggle with the idea that why should we sing for men and women together. I think it’s good enough, I’m thankful we go step by step.”

In some respects, she says, being blind makes it easier to perform.

“Because when you look at people you can hardly perform. I would be a little bit shy. But this way I’m in my own little world.”

From the Interview

“Whatever life teaches me, I give them with all my heart, through music.”

“Spirituality is very strong in Iranian people. You can tell that by all the poetry we have… I think that is a way of escaping of difficulties of life.”

“It’s good if you educate yourself. If you know music or any other career like knitting, cooking, all these actions, these artistic actions in life, you design your life better.”

“I don’t know what I’d be if I was sighted. Well, I’d be like any other person, any other woman. Working, running the house, maybe I would do more handiwork like flower arranging, which I learned in Japan.”

“When they call you diva, it means the goddess of art.”

“When I want to pass a difficult path, if any hand comes, I hold it.”

Coordinates: Iran

Pari Zanganeh

folk/ opera diva

Persian Divas

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