<<    >>
Ebi, singer
Ebrahim Hamedi, stage name Ebi, is one of the most important representatives of Iranian pop music. He has lived in exile since the Islamic Revolution in Iran and to this day Ebi enjoys great sympathy for his songs among both younger and older Iranians.

Which sound do you associate with your Iranian childhood?

Ebi: Everything I do as a musician, all my work has its roots in Iran.
My feelings and I as a person are connected to Iran like an umbilical cord until today. In my childhood about 65 years ago, my idols were the singers Aref, Viguen, Ali Nazari and Davood Maghami in Iran. These persons were the role models of Iranian music in my youth.

Why did you want to become a singer?

Ebi: Every person has something and the person is aware of it.
I was born with the God-gift of my voice and I had to become a singer with this gift. At the age of four and five I started singing for my friends. I continued singing until I was a teenager and then I founded a band. The talent of my voice was within me and as a teenager I could develop it even more. That's how I became a singer.
Of course, I could have been born with another talent and then I would have followed that talent and worked as a musician, artist or writer, for example. In my eyes, everyone has some talent and I discovered the talent to sing withing myself and followed it.

Were there any special music lessons during your school years?

Ebi: Unfortunately, I did not attend any music school at all.
But later in my youth I became the soloist of the National Culture and Art Orchestra of Iran, the Culture minister of Iran wanted to send me to Italy for further opera education. But I was a young singer who was singing in the top night clubs of Tehran and was in love and sang of Jim Morrison, Tom Jones, Van Morrison, Albano... Opera education wasn't so attractive.

You were on a tour in the USA when the Islamic Revolution took place in Iran. How did you experience this upheaval?

Ebi: It is understandable that when change happens, the first thing you hope for or expect is the positive. Shortly after the Islamic Revolution, we noticed from abroad that the whole thing in Iran was not going in a good direction. We saw that it was not a revolution that was bringing us progress or advancing us, but the opposite, that is a revolution that was setting us back. We immediately understood that this revolution is not taking us forward at all, but catapulting us back to a very ancient time. And when Chomeini's orders and that of his followers became known, it was clear that a small dictatorship had emerged, which would grow stronger and stronger and even stronger.
At first we still had the hope that we could reverse our mistake. But very quickly we understood that this was impossible. And after our hope died, for the Iranians a great flight abroad began and we realized that reversing what was happening in Iran was no longer possible.

Can you remember the last song you sang in public in Iran before you left the country?

Ebi: Right at the end I had a contract with a cabaret in Vanak Square in Tehran and that's where I had my last public performance in Iran. But I can't remember which song I last sang publicly in Iran. Most of my songs I only sang after the Islamic revolution and before that I only sang a small part of my songs in Iran.

As a musician, what sound do you associate with Iran before the Islamic Revolution in 1979?

Ebi: My memories of Iran before the Islamic Revolution are not associated with certain sounds, but there are names and memories of certain people. Mr. Farrochsad ¹ played a very big role in my life and for my work; I will never forget that. He will always be in my memory and I am very proud that he had such great impact in my life.
Besides that, I worked with singer Farhad Mehrad for three years and I associate those memories and names with my life before the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
Especially Farhad's voice in the Couchini Club, where we performed together, shapes my memory of that time. I am also very proud of the collaboration with Farhad and for me it was my best time back.

»Even music dulls the mind, because involves pleasure and ecstasy, similar to drugs. Your music, I mean. Usually your music has not exalted the spirit, it puts it to sleep. And it destructs our Youth, who become poisoned by it, and then they no longer care about their country,« Chomeini said in a 1979 interview with journalist Oriana Fallaci ². Is there anything culturally valuable for you that the Islamists created in Iran after 1979?

Ebi: (laughs) By no means is there anything culturally valuable in the field of art, culture or music that was created by the Islamists.
They stood for the destruction of culture rather than for creating something new. They wanted to make something impossible possible, namely to destroy our culture. However, to this day, they have not succeeded in doing so, although they are still trying with censorship, controls and bans in the areas of film and theater, writers and musicians.
The Islamists have made no progress at all in the cultural sphere; their goal has been to reverse and destroy the culture. To this day, they have had no success with this in Iran in literature or song lyrics. What was created in the field of culture before the Islamic Revolution were real works of art with content and value, but what is being done today by the Islamists has no content and is very superficial and worthless.
Despite all the censorship and different jail sentences, work ban and fines for Iranian artists in the country, they could not change our Persian culture and our art to an Islamic ideological art.

Music is also described as a language on the level of feelings. What feeling do you want to express in the first place with your music?

Ebi: I think that everything that happens in the world should always be based on love. I try to express a feeling of love in my work as a singer.
This feeling of love can refer to a person, a family or even relatives and my songs consist of this feeling of love. I am concerned with an exchange of feelings, with falling in love and the effects that love causes in people. For this reason I call the current tour love project. This love project includes the elements of woman, home, friendship, humanity and peace.

Did the music help you in exile to deal with the loss of your homeland or do the old memories and songs rather evoke a pain and longing for Iran?

Ebi: Of course, in a positive sense, my work has had an impact on my personal life. When I was depressed, I sang sad songs and when I was in a cheerful mood, I sang happy songs. A mixture of certain feelings, for example being far from home and family and living in exile, sometimes reflects one's mood, but it can also feel very hurtful and make one sad. So sometimes these feelings can be pleasant or they can be very hurtful and sad.

The Iranian Madschid-Resa Rahnaward was sentenced to death at the age of 23 for moharebeh (»waging war against God«). Before his execution on December 12, 2022, he said as his last message to his relatives in Iran: »They should not read the Koran and pray. They should be happy. Play happy songs.«
What went through your mind as an Iranian musician and singer when you heard these words?

Ebi: I can't say much about that. (Ebi has tears in his eyes)
You can only have respect for such people, for their courage and bravery, and you can learn from it for yourself.

Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi became famous with his song Soorakh Moosh. In this song, he points out the indifference and ignorance of all those inside and outside Iran who have come to terms with the Islamic regime. Because Toomaj Salehi speaks openly and directly about the conditions in his country, he was arrested in Iran in October 2022, ill-treated and released on bail after a year in prison and violently detained again by the Islamic regime a few days later.
Do you have a message for Toomaj Salehi, who had the courage to stop being silent?

Ebi: I know the work of Toomaj and his songs and I know what he has achieved. I want to tell him that in the path he is following he serves as a role model and that the Iranian people are also following him on this path. I want to thank him for that and show my respect for his courage and clarity in his work.
If you are living in Iran, then it is very important in the current situation to speak such clear words. For that, you need a very, very big personality, that despite knowing what can happen, you don't let yourself be intimidated and you don't show fear, but you continue your way and you continue your work.
I have the highest respect for Toomaj's work.

After your long and successful career as a singer, have you figured out the reason why music can succeed in bringing together and connecting completely different people?

Ebi: That brings me back to the theme of love, because love connects everything, including people to each other. These connections lead to good things in life. In the love that I feel for my profession as a singer, I also try to show my listeners all my feelings. If my listeners enjoy it, then this exchange of and connection through love are a kind of form of being in love.
Most singers in exile experience similar feelings.

Assuming that you could perform in Iran again, which song would you sing first?

Ebi: In the past, I thought of other songs, but now, after the Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran, there is only one song for me, the song Khanoom-gol. The first song I would sing in Iran is this song.

11 / 2023


¹ Fereydun Farrochsad, brother of the Iranian poet Forugh Farrochsad, was one of the most famous singers and entertainers in Iran. Because of the Islamic Revolution, he went into exile in Germany in 1979 and was brutally murdered in his apartment in Bonn on August 6, 1992 by Chomeini's henchmen.
² The New York Times, Oct. 7, 1979
<<    >>