Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat
I Am Eve (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2008)
"I Am Eve" marks the second KKV recording by the Iranian Vahdat Sisters. On their first recording, Songs From A Persian Garden, the sisters broke the ban on women singing in public in Iran. They gave a concert at the Italian Embassy in Tehran and the live recording that resulted gave its listeners a glimpse of what is usually kept hidden behind closed doors.
But this is not an era in which women can or should remain silent. There is too much at stake for the future of themselves, their children, and respective countries, not to mention the entire global community. In the liner notes, Founder of KKV, Erik Hillestad laments, "Who can stop Eve from singing? Who can stop the water from running or the wind from blowing? Since the first woman of creation, women’s voices have been heard wherever mankind (prefer "humankind"), has settled, singing songs of love and joy, sorrow and comfort…"
Certainly the Vahdat sisters have been gifted with gorgeous voices, musical talent and then some. They team up with composer Atabak Elyasi on "I Am Eve," to explore both ancient and contemporary poetry. The songs fall on the melancholic side and although stunning in production and delivery are not so easy to listen to these days. Yes, they act as a reminder that we as women and men must stay vigilant and we must question why certain laws, such as Iranian women singing in public are in place.
In order to right the wrongs in the world, to bring peace to the land and liberation for all people around the globe, we must raise questions. To not allow a woman to express herself in public, to cover her up in some way, physically or emotionally, or to censor her words, hurts all of humankind. It is a shaming, a blaming that says women do not have the right to be.
And no, this is not cause to go to war with Iran. Instead it is a call for people to come together in peace and exchange what is beautiful and wholesome about cultures. It is about giving women everywhere a voice and the venue in which to use that voice. Music unites us and builds bridges. Women’s voices are powerful vehicles for change and transformation, which is why some governments want to suppress these voices.
"I Am Eve" with its lush poetry, traditional Persian instruments and emotional intensity deserves our undivided attention. Not just because of its socio-political statement, but because this is beautiful music by two courageous women. The Norwegian label Kirkelig Kulturverksted, also courageous, gave these women an avenue for feminine expression. Let the sisters’ voices ring out.
Patricia Herlevi hosts the community radio show, Global Heartthrob with KSVR-Mount Vernon and the music consciousness blog, The Whole Music Experience. She contributes regularly to World Music Central.