Sunday, 13 June 2010, 06:33 GMT
Khaliqi quit singing to serve Kurdish art

Mazhar Khaliqi. GLOBE PHOTO

The Kurdish Globe

Famous Kurdish singer Mazhar Khaliqi reveals his intentions in "Globe" interview

Khaliqi complains about lack of a marketing system for artists in Kurdistan Region, while he strongly defends the importance of keeping Kurdish arts pure and apart from the rest.

Mazhar Khaliqi sang a large number of Kurdish lyrics until the late 1980s; his songs are still widely played. However, he declines he stopped because of age; instead, he says, he wanted to serve Kurdish art in a wider way.

"There is no relationship between art and age; this is something belonging to the experience. The more artists work in the artistic field the more they get acquainted with it--this is a matter of experience," said Khaliqi, who also explained that, after he quit singing, he came back to Suleimaniya, opened the National Cultural Center, and established a studio "that was the best one in Iraq in 2003."

The "freedom and better opportunities" now available in Kurdistan have made Khaliqi think about singing again, as he explained. He is currently at work on an album, but he is not sure he can have it produced. "After it is done, I want to listen to it and see if it worth putting out," he said, noting that he already has several song recorded but not produced.

He has another view that seems more important to him, however. "Some other times, I speak to myself and decide to help the youths to work and it is better to record a song instead."

Despite the Kurdistan Region's facilities for artists, Khaliqi is annoyed with the lack of a legal system reserving artists' business rights. "There is no market system in Kurdistan Region regarding the music. This is the responsibility of the government to organize this issue and resolve this problem. The Ministry of Culture and Youths should set a marketing system for music, because it is a national issue and Kurdish music should survive this problem." According to Khaliqi, professionalism is the key to rearranging the works of music, and there is no ministry to professionally work in this field in the region.

Media, as the most crucial medium in introducing the new artistic products, is another point of Khaliqi's critique. Poor artistic works shouldn't be aired on TV, he said, because this is a responsibility and the media should never play a negative role in destroying music and art. "Not everyone can be called an artist--and one sees this term in Kurdish newspapers frequently--unless they reach the top and become fully professional in their careers."

Khaliqi believes that "there can be TV channels like Vin and Korek [two Kurdish satellite entertainment channels], but they should comply with social values; for example, there are prayers and supplications to God during Ramadan month that show clips with dancing girls immediately afterwards. Such inexperience destabilizes society because this issue is very influential."

On the popularity of Persian, Arabic, European, and Turkish song among the Kurds, he thinks it sources from the Kurds' tolerance toward others. During the last few years, foreign singers held concerts in the Region and were received by many Kurdish music listeners.

"When 30,000 people attend the concert of Mu'en Isfahani (the Persian singer) in Erbil city, it shows the greatness of Kurds. Meanwhile, the occupier countries didn't allow Kurds to show their music and art to the world; we were obliged to borrow the Turkish, Arabic, and Persian music from outside Kurdistan and adapt to Kurdish music," said Khaliqi. "The coming of foreign singers-like Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and others-to Kurdistan Region to hold concerts is quite normal if Kurdish music can make some space for itself in these countries as well; also, their concerts in the Region don't mean Kurdish music is poor and in need of their music. Turks, Arabs, and Persians have benefited from our music and named it as their own heritage."

He described the heritage of pure Kurdish melodies as very rich when he compares it with European melodies. "We have more than 17,000 original Kurdish melodies. If you search in all of Europe, you cannot find 1,000 original melodies," he said.

In spite of being a great Kurdish artist and having a great history in Kurdish music, Khaliqi has never held a music concert, even though his listeners have always been eager for one. Khaliqi says his experience in holding concerts is not positive. "When I was just a schoolchild I used to sing on the stage. When I was living in Tehran, Kurdish songs were not so popular for holding concerts?If someone speaks or claps during the concert I wouldn't be able to continue singing and confuse the words."

Khaliqi was born in 1938 in Sina (Sanandaj), west of Iran. He started singing at the age of 8 when in primary school. He received lessons from the Kurdish master musician Hassan Kamkar. Khaliqi was invited to sing for Radio Sanandaj when he was 13, and later invited by Radio Kirmanshah. The opportunity made him famous. He left his town to study in Tehran, then left Iran during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. He has recorded more than 150 pieces of Kurdish folk melodies.