Guest: Elaha Soroor, singer-songwriter, composer
Moderator: Katja Utroša
Elaha Soroor, an Afghan musician and performer presents the critically acclaimed album Songs of Our Mothers, a collection of folk songs traditionally sung by Afghan women. “These songs tell stories of joy, pain and resilience, passed from mother to daughter in times of hardship and oppression whilst also celebrating femininity, sensuality and the spirit of resistance,” writes the label Bella Union, which released the album in 2019.
Soroor’s confident social and political stance comes as no surprise: she is a popular Afghan pop singer who had to leave her homeland as a refugee. She currently lives and works in Europe. The musician gained recognition by performing on the television show Afghan Star (2009), a version of the well-known talent show, and is one of a few female musicians who have performed publicly in Afghanistan. Despite her success, or precisely because of it, working in a society subject to fundamentalism and patriarchy that targets musicians, and especially female musicians, proved to be too dangerous.
Yet, on the album, she seeks to reveal a different, often silenced Afghanistan, its rich heritage and musical diversity, skilfully blended with contemporary folk and jazz. The album is a collaboration with the award-winning collective Kefaya, which in the current concert line-up consists of Giuliano Modarelli (guitar), Al MacSween (keyboards), and Joost Hendrickx (drums).
Soroor is inspired by Afghan and Iranian pop music of the 60s and 70s. She studied vocal techniques of Indian classical music and opera singing. She also leads workshops on Afghan musical traditions.