Hani Mojtahedy © Halo Lano

Hani Mojtahedy is a renowned Kurdish singer whose work combines traditional Persian music and Kurdish lyrics with contemporary influences. In 2000, Mojtahedi began singing professionally and founded the first Iranian band consisting exclusively of female musicians. The band’s performances were allowed by the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, but only on the condition that no men were allowed in the audience. In the Islamic Republic, it is forbidden for women to sing in front of men, and photos of the group or their performances were also prohibited.

After years of working within the structures of Iranian society, Mojtahedy decided that religious laws were limiting her creative potential and artistic freedom to a crucial degree. In 2004, she made the difficult decision to leave her family in Iran and move to Berlin to pursue her career. She soon received wider recognition and began performing on television and at international music festivals.

Mojtahedy is a role model for many women in Iran. She is politically active, campaigns for the independence of the Kurdish minority in Iran and is also a champion of human rights. Her lyrics deal with personal issues such as border conflicts, women’s rights, breaking with conventions and the paradoxes of modern life. Mojtahedy’s song “Azadi” (meaning “freedom”) was written in support of the protests in Iran in the winter of 2017. The song denounces the repression and persecution of the Kurdish autonomy movement. The accompanying music video depicts the various waves of protest against the Islamic Republic since 1979, a representation of the cyclical recurrence of hope for change followed by oppression. Mojtahedy has collaborated with rock musicians, traditional instrumentalists and even the Czech National Symphony Orchestra for the Kurdish symphony “Peshmerga” composed by Dilshad Said. Her melodies are influenced by pop and traditional Kurdish music. Since she moved to Berlin, more electronic elements have also been incorporated into her music. Most recently, Mojtahedy worked with LABOUR, who are also residents at Callie’s Sound Studio. To their debut album nine-sum sorcery, Hani Mojtahedy contributed haunting vocals based on interpretations of Kurdish and Persian verse. Their albums include Dayk (2010); Shaw (2019); Skala (2019); Babylon Orchestra (2020) and Nour (2020).