Iran: Gissoo Shakeri – “Voice of women who cannot sing”

6 April 2006
Singer Gissoo Shakeri works are banned in Iran, but her songs can be listened to freely over the internet. Below is an excerpt from an interview with Mary Lou Greenberg from the magazine Revolution, and lyrics from one of her banned songs

“Before the Islamic revolution during the reign of the Shah, I could sing, but didn’t. I didn’t want to accept the male chauvinism and censorship of the Shah’s regime. After the Islamic revolution, I couldn’t sing; women’s singing was banned, women’s voices were not to be heard,” explains the 53-year-old singer Gissoo Shakeri.

After the revolution, in 1988, she left the country and went into exile in Sweden.

“For a while, I didn’t sing anything. When I started singing I chose subjects relating to the suffering of my people. My voice is the voice of the women who cannot sing, my words are their words. The bird of freedom captive in your breast sings with my voice.

I can be heard in Europe. In Iran, I am banned, except I can be heard clandestinely on the Internet. I have a website (see link below) where people can download my songs for free. Many people contact me by email and tell me how happy they are that a woman artist has dedicated her life to this.”

Protest marches
Gissoo Shakeri literally became the voice of a rally against treatment of women and anti-women laws in Afghanistan and Iran, touring through five European cities in March 2006. During the marches her vocal was broadcast from a sound truck, in the evenings it was heard in live performance, and during bus rides between cities she was leading the protesters in song.

Gissoo Shakeri has worked together with Iranian poet Mina Assadi for many years, and together they created what became the signature song of the campaign.

A video with the song quoted below can be seen at Gissoo’s website by clicking on “Kaarzar” under ‘Flash Work’.

Through the cracks of closed doors

I watched a bird fly.

I lay in a house of despair.

I heard fortune walking out.

I was captive of the dark night.

I saw moons coming and going.

I asked myself, what kind of life is this?

Enough waiting.

No! Now is the time to do battle.

We saw a woman in love

Condemned to death and stoned.

We saw the laborer on the ground

And capital riding on his back.

We saw the hungry baby crying,

Sad and miserable.

We saw the sapling of dreams

Wilt yellow with no spring.

We asked ourselves, what kind of life is this?

Enough waiting.

No! Now is the time to do battle.

As long as we are chained

Capital, ignorance and religion will reign.

Did not that young sar-be-dar

Want only freedom?

We asked ourselves, what kind of life is this?

Enough waiting.

No! Now is the time to do battle.


Words: Mina Assadi

Singer: Gissoo Shakeri

Music: Mohamad Shams

Photos from Gissoo Shakeri’s music video, ‘Kaarzar’

Click to watch music video (flash video)

Gissoo Shakeri

Gissoo Shakeri’s official website:

Revolution #040 – 26 March 2006:

‘Gissoo Shakeri: The Bird of Freedom Captive in Your Breast Sings with My Voice’
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