I remember when Cyrus Moussavi hooked me up with some freelancing opportunities at NBC’s NowThisNews about a year ago. He told me that he dreamed of traveling the world to tell stories through music. I was thrilled to hear that NBC News picked up his show. I will frequently post his work here, as it is extremely interesting to tour the Middle East through music. His show covers countries all over the world, so take a look at Raw Music International. The episode above is about Kurdistan. Kurdistan is a semi-autonomous region in the north of Iraq. Kurds are the largest population of people without a nation, and after Saddam Hussein’s fall, they have risen to success.
Moussavi relays that he would read about the rich musical tradition carried out even under the worst conditions. He explains that singers traveled on foot and kept the Kurdish language and culture alive despite the despotic rule of Hussein. What is interesting to note is that singing in the Kurdish language during the Hussein regime was political, and musicians who were caught doing it could be punished to death. Moussavi explains that in the present Kurdistan, the old musicians are gone. As a result of the Saddam Hussein take down, oil money has created a more capitalistic society. Kurds are no longer singing the hallowed songs of self-determination.
Cyrus traveled through mountain ranges and dusty cities to find Mohammed, an 18 year-old living in Kalar, a religious and conservative desert town. Mohammed is chasing art, while his family encourages him to think practically. Every Kurd in northern Iraq is desperately trying to make money because they’re worried that the recent prosperity feels temporary. While Moussavi was there, he met Helly Luv and Iraj, two artists from the opposite ends of the socio-economic scale.
Now, as ISIS tears through Iraq, Kurdistan might be on the verge of independence.