Googoosh Makes Mideast Concert Comeback after Two-Decade Silence
Banned at home since the Islamic revolution 21 years ago, Iranian singing legend Googoosh enthralled an audience of more than 20,000 Wednesday at a concert across the Arabian Gulf in Dubai.
"I wish you long lives, and hope that one day I can sing for you all in Iran," she told the largely Iranian crowd after strutting onto the stage in a sequined evening dress and receiving a standing ovation, according to the Associated Press.
Tens of thousands of Iranians live and work in this oil-rich emirate, but many in the audience had flown in from Iran to see Googoosh in her first Mideast concerts on Wednesday and on Saturday night, for the Iranian new year of Norouz.
Organizers said 70 percent of the Dubai audience were flying in from Iran.
An exhausted Googoosh, who today is 50 and launched her stage career at the age of three, flew in overnight from a European tour and made only a fleeting appearance at a press conference that was delayed by two hours.
Wearing shades to conceal the fatigue, she has also cropped her hair for a film to be shot in Cuba next month.
Directed by her film-maker husband, Massoud Kimiai, Googoosh will play a "mentally challenged girl who falls in love with a scarecrow," in a film script based on a book by Felice Hastings, her spokesman, Behrooz Derabi, said to AFP
The concerts in Dubai came after a tour in North America and Europe, her first public performances since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
Googoosh was a cultural icon in Iran in the 1960s and 1970s. With a flair for style, her constantly changing fashions and hairstyles were copied by many, and her music was everywhere. But after the revolution, she was forced to end her acting and singing career. She lived an isolated life in a Tehran apartment, unable to travel freely.
When a more moderate government under President Mohammad Khatami was elected in 1997, she gained permission to leave the country with her husband and perform abroad. Her first concert in Dubai was on Wednesday.
Although Googoosh had not uttered a note in public from 1979 until a concert in Toronto last July, her songs have been widely sold on bootleg cassettes around Iran.
At 50, Googoosh has lost none of her style. She was dressed in black pants and a cardigan over a light-green turtleneck, her hair closely cropped, added The Associated Press.
In a country where poetry is widely read, quoted and memorized, Googoosh's songs were a blend of touching poems exploring the themes of love, loneliness and heartache, with rhythms borrowed from Western pop.
Googoosh was in the United States when the shah was overthrown in 1979. Despite the personal risk - her lifestyle embodied much of what the Islamic Republic intended to wipe out - she returned a few months later to Tehran and was briefly imprisoned.
Her passport was confiscated and she stopped her public performances.
Googoosh, who now divides her time between Tehran and Toronto, relaunched a career broken off by the 1979 revolution in Iran with a Toronto concert in July 2000 followed by a North American tour that pulled huge Iranian expatriate crowds.
Also last year, she brought out a new CD, "Zoroaster."
Googoosh, whose real name is Faegheh Atashin, has a 15-member band gathered from as far apart as Venezuela and Iran for the Dubai concerts at separate 24,000 and 8,000-capacity venues – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)