Persian Soul Music Makes It’s Way West: Mahsa Vahdat

Persian Soul Music Makes It’s Way West: Mahsa Vahdat

When I first heard the voice of this “bulbul” (“songbird” in Persian) Mahsa Vahdat,I didn’t know whether to weep or to cry out in joy. It was as if I had come home to a mountain top, to a desert plain, or to a forest clearing, to something ancient in my soul. Although I have no understanding of Farsi (modern Persian) I felt I “knew” at some height and depth of emotion the essence of what was being conveyed: longing for home, search for light, yearning for that love that is pure freedom without the desire to possess. When I later read the translations, I was not surprised that I had indeed received what was offered to me.

Mahsa Vahdat is a voice crying in the wilderness of her country of Iran to all others (including ours in America) with this message: that only Love can win against tyranny and division and madness that festers in the dark mind of every country, of this world, we call earth, and within each of our souls. When asked whether or not she fears a backlash from her government that has banned her from “official” appearances, she responds, “It’s a fight against God & truth [to not allow a woman’s voice to sing freely of love].”(see the last video below, a brief, 5 minute interview with Ms. Vahdat)

If truth is Love, then God is Love. And God alone is Real. An ancient, perennial saying among the mystical traditions of the world religions. Please give this being a deep listen. And an extra treat will be her duet with the American blues/jazz singer, Mighty Sam McCain. His strength and sincerity, not to speak of his expertise, comes shining through like a full moon. (first video)

(Lastly, a sincere deep bow of thanks to Katie Rose who introduced me to the soul music of Mahsa Vahdat).


Born in Tehran in 1973, Mahsa Vahdat started her career in music by taking piano lessons of Minoo Mohebbi from an early age. She continued the piano with Laleh Aghevli. She picked up Persian traditional singing with Pari Maleki and continued singing with Mehdi Fallah and Mohsen Keramati. Vahdat also plays the setar which she studied under Ramin Kakavand and later Masoud Shoari. She entered the Art University in Tehran in 1993 and graduated from the Music Faculty with a BA in Music. In the Art University she has been under the influence of master musicians such as Sharif Lotfi, Ahmad Pejman, Hooshang Zarif, Behnam Vadani, Abdorreza Sajadi, Hushang Kamkar, and Mohammad Reza Darvishi.

Featured on the “Scent of Reunion” CD (2009), are Knut Reiersrud and Jarle Bernhoft – arrangements, guitars and electrical piano. On double bass, vibraphone, piano and trumpet – Mathias Eick, on drums – Rune Arnesen and on the ney flute – Pasha Hanjani from Tehran.

The Farsi Lyrics is by well known painter and poet Mohammah Ebrahim Jafari and English lyrics is by Norwegian poet and producor Erik Hillestad .

Mahsa Vahdat sings duet entitled “Imprints”  with the Mighty Sam McCain on the Scent of Reunion Cd, 2011 American soul blends with Persian soul. Perfection.

poem: erik hillestad and mohammad ebrahim jafari
melody: mahsa vahdat and knut reiersrud
arrangement: knut reiersrud and jarle bernhoft

(Might Sam McCain sings)
There is an imprint of your eyes
in the depth of my eyes
There is an imprint of your voice
in my restless mind
There is an imprint of your body
in my embracing arms
This is why I miss you
There is an imprint of your eyes
in the sky and the cloud
There is an imprint of your look
in the immeasurable heart of cloud
There is a flow of your voice
and your Hay Hay waiting for my restless mind
There is a haze of your glance
and a sky of your spring,
in the azure stature of the cloud

(Mahsa Vahdat sings)

O Moon with your colour,
O Moon with your light,
With your blue–faced magic tone
Oh you crazy, oh you lonely visible and invisible
My hair is the darkness of the night
My eagerness is a star
I want to pass over you like a cloud
And wash my wings in the spring of the night
Oh, your moonlight, oh, your moonlight,
how beautiful it is tonight
You are the moon
and your light is the sun of tomorrow
When the seven skies of wishes are gilded
Spread your words in my crazy soul
Break the ironic spell of this time
and bring me the hidden secrets into freedom
When the moon rises behind the harvest
The root of misery will be eradicated
O shine! You the everlasting joy of moonlight
Don’t you see the scent of my beloved is coming?

Mahsa Vahdat  “Earth” for those of you who would like to hear Mahsa solo. Exquisite.

poem: mohammad ebrahim jafari
melody: mahsa vahdat and jarle bernhoft based
on «balal, balal», old persian folksong
arrangement: knut reiersrud and jarle bernhoft You are the sea, I am a lonely fish

Oh, how far my shore is from your sea!
My heart is brimful of craze for reunion with you
I am swimming in the sky and flying blue
Somewhere in a forest a place is missing your scent
In that place there is a scent of flowers
no one has ever seen
In nights where the flower of light grows,
the song of nightingale can be heard from far away
I am a sorrowful shepherd woman
who sings the story of passion with my tears
My heart is a cloud of sorrow
and your memory is the rain
O Moon, shine to the stalks of the meadow
I wish I was a cloud of embraces
I wish I was an extinguished flame in your eyes
You are my moon and my moonlight
You sleep like a dream in my hope
Your imprint is in the line of my palm
You are a restless fever on my lips

Interview wit Mahsa Vahdat, speaking of the persecution of women in Iran, and not allowing them to . . . live  freely . . . and to sing!


1 Comment
  • Tony Williams
    Posted at 20:19h, 12 September Reply

    Wow, she is a marvelous sound, and sight, to behold, if I may say so. Her voice strongly reminds me of Karla Bonoff. Oh, and maybe to a degree, Sara McLauchlin. Both have this rare power of voice to deliver the message to the deepest parts of my hearing.

    Thanks Neale

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