Googoosh


Googoosh
▪ 2001

      In 2000 Iranian pop singer Googoosh made a major comeback, performing in public for the first time in 20 years. On a world tour that began in North America, she sang old favourites as well as a few selections from her new compact disc (CD), Zoroaster, to packed stadiums, affording Iranian immigrants the opportunity to see one of their most popular musical icons for the first time since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. It was an emotionally charged return that reportedly left audiences in tears.

      Googoosh was born in 1950 in Tehran. Her legal name was Faegheh Atashin, but she was called “Googoosh” from birth. She began singing and acting at a young age, performing with her father, an entertainer, when she was a toddler and making her first film at age seven. In the 1970s Googoosh was at the height of her film and music career and was widely emulated by Iranian women; in addition to listening to her music, they copied her clothing (miniskirts) and her short haircut (the “Googooshy”). The 1979 revolution, however, brought a number of cultural restrictions; women were no longer allowed to sing in public, and pop music was banned completely. Most performers chose to leave the country rather than be silenced, but Googoosh, who was visiting the United States at the time of the revolution, elected to return home within a few months despite the possibility of persecution or even execution. She was jailed briefly but was not harmed. After her release she led a sheltered life, reportedly spending much of her time indoors.

      In the decades in which Googoosh was publicly silent, her music was not. Bootleg recordings and videos were readily available in Iran, and many found their way into the hands of the younger generation. Googoosh acquired a number of fans among those who had never had the freedom to purchase one of her CDs legally or hear her perform live.

      Following the election of Pres. Mohammad Khatami in 1997, many restrictions began to be lifted. Some women (Googoosh was not among them) were once again allowed to sing in public to all-female audiences, and, while distributing pop music was still officially illegal, possession of it was allowed. Googoosh finally was granted a passport and allowed to leave the country for the first time since the revolution, and she made plans to tour and to work on a film with her husband, director Masud Kimiai. Islamic fundamentalists, however, vehemently opposed the tour, and it remained to be seen whether she would ever again be able to perform for fans in her native country.

Sandra Langeneckert

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▪ Iranian singer and actress
original name  Faegheh Atashin 
born 1950, Tehrān, Iran

      Iranian singer and actress who was one of Iran's most popular and enduring entertainers despite being banned from performing for some 20 years following the Iranian Revolution (1978–79).

      Called “Googoosh” from birth, she began singing and acting at a young age, performing with her father, an entertainer, when she was a toddler and making her first film at age seven. She later appeared in such movies as Partgahe makhouf (1963; Cliff of Fear), Sheitune bala (1965; The Naughty One), and Panjereh (1970; “The Window”). In the 1970s Googoosh was at the height of her film and music career and was widely emulated by Iranian women; in addition to listening to her music, they copied her clothing (miniskirts) and her short haircut (known as the “Googooshy”). In 1979, however, Iran was declared an Islamic republic, and a number of cultural restrictions were introduced; women were no longer allowed to sing in public, and pop music was banned. Although most Iranian performers chose to leave the country, Googoosh, who was visiting the United States at the time of the revolution, returned home. She was jailed briefly and thereafter led a reclusive life.

      Bootleg recordings and videos remained readily available in Iran, however, and Googoosh continued to acquire fans. Following the election of President Mohammad Khatami in 1997, many restrictions began to be lifted. Some women (Googoosh was not among them) were allowed to sing in public to all-female audiences, and, while distributing pop music was still officially illegal, possession of it was permitted. In 2000 Googoosh finally was granted a passport and allowed to leave the country for the first time since the revolution. That year she staged her first world tour, which began in Toronto, where she and her husband, Iranian film director Masud Kimiai, eventually settled. Googoosh's later recordings include Zoroaster (2000) and Last News (2004).

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Universalium. 2010.

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