Artist Profiles: Sivan Perwer

Sivan Perwer

Sivan Perwer was born December 23, 1955 in Siverek, Turkey. One of his childhood memories is that the whole neighborhood used to demand from him to sing for them in frequent occasions: “Sivan please sing for us, we’ll give you candies and sweets…” The people around him really loved his singing and he grew up with this encouraging atmosphere. By the time he was in high school people were asking him to make records. At that time this was not in his mind; he was involved with furthering his studies to help his Kurdish people. Besides, recordings could only be done in Turkish, not in his native language Kurdish.

Yet he kept singing. Songs were about friendship, humanity, freedom and peace. Every new song brought a new message. From 1975 on he became a protest singer. When asked why he did not choose fame and fortune he answered: “I want my songs to bring a message about my people, about their reality, their situation, their suffering, social misery, about occupation. I must give Kurdish Music a face, a personality. I want to serve my people with my music.”

Still Sivan did not get a real musical education from the start. He was studying mathematics. Yet gradually he taught himself music by studying other peoples’ music and developing his musicianship. He has become the best known Kurdish musician in the world, accompanying himself on the tanbur, Kurdish 3-course lute. Sivan Perwer is also a highly accomplished composer.

At this time he has recorded over 30 cassettes, records, numerous CDs, film and video music. He has become a teacher and inspiration for many Kurdish singers; but especially for his son. His wife Gulistan is also a well-known Kurdish singer.

He is surely banned in the radio and television of the region. As a passionate defender of his people and their music, Sivan travels the world tirelessly, against all efforts to stifle his music. Political songs are a major part of his repertoire but it is in traditional epic and love songs that Sivan excels unlike any other. With 24 albums and more than 20 million cassettes sold, Sivan Perwer is the voice of his people. Many Kurds used to hide their cassettes: after listening to them they were wrapped up in plastic and buried again. In Iraq the possession of a Sivan Perwer cassette was a capital offense.

His voice, cries of love travel many lands, singing on behalf of the silent, he has become the mythical minstrel of an entire people and one of its symbols of cultural resistance.

In 2003 a video came out with concert footage from Perwer’s performances in Duhok, Akre, Zaxo, Dereluk, Lales (Hanke) and other many cities.

By now Sivan Perwer has become a living legend, giving performances all over the world, participating in solidarity concerts, crossing continents with multi-cultural events. Each one of his recordings is different and unique. Spanning the range from traditional to folk, from classical to protest songs to songs of freedom and friendship, in various Kurdish dialects.

Discography:

Govenda Azadîxwazan (1974)
Hevalê Bargiran im (1974)
Herne Pêş (1975)
Ey Ferat (1976)
Kî ne Em (1977)
Le Dilbere (1978)
Hay Dil (1979)
Gelê Min Rabe (1982)
Agirî (1983)
Bilbilo / Ferzê (1984)
Dotmam (1985)
Naze (1986)
Helebçe (1987)
Xewna Min / Qasimlo (Ses, 1988)
Zembîlfiroş (1989)
Ya Star (Ses, 1995)
Hêviya Te (1999)
Roj û Heyv (2000)
Sare (2004)
Cane Cane (2009)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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