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℗ 1996

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Marzieh • 1996 • Monadjat

Ashraf o-Sadat Mortezaie (1924 – 13 October 2010), known professionally as Marzieh, was a Tehran-born singer of Persian traditional music.

Marzieh started her career in the 1940s at Radio Tehran and cooperated with some of the greatest 20th century Persian songwriters and lyricists like Ali Tajvidi, Parviz Yahaghi, Homayoun Khorram, Rahim Moeini Kermanshahi and Bijan Taraghi. Marzieh also sang with the Farabi Orchestre, conducted by Morteza Hannaneh, a pioneer of Persian polyphonic music, during the 1960s and 1970s. Her first major public performance was in 1942, when, though still a teenager, she played the principal role of Shirin at the Jame Barbud opera house in the Persian operetta Shirin and Farhad.

Following the Islamic Revolution of 1979 public performances and broadcasts of record albums by solo female singers were banned outright for ten years. Ayatollah Khomeini had decreed: 'Women's voices should not be heard by men other than members of their own families'.

She told the Daily Telegraph that in order to continue her vocal practice she used to walk by night from her home in the historic north-Tehran Niavaran foothills to her cabin in the mountains, where she would sing next to a roaring waterfall: 'Nobody could hear me. I sang to the stars and the rocks'.

Upon the death of Khomeini the successor mullahs suggested that she could resume singing, provided that she undertook never to sing for men. She refused, declaring, 'I have always sung only for all Iranians,' and in 1994 she left Iran forever due to the political repression, making her new home in Paris.

She performed several concerts in Los Angeles, California and Royal Albert Hall (London) in 1993, 1994 and 1995. The Paris-based composer Mohammad Shams and the Persian tar soloist Hamid Reza Taherzadeh were the main musicians who worked with Marzieh in exile.

France 3, a regional TV news and entertainment channel, has compared Marzieh's singing voice to those of legendary songstresses Edith Piaf and Maria Callas. On the other hand, the European press have also compared her to Vanessa Redgrave and Melina Mercouri for her willingness to put political and human-rights beliefs ahead of her career, even her own safety.

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