In a distant land far from her ancestral home, a remarkable Kurdish singer and actress has captured the hearts of many with her soulful voice and heartfelt songs. Zarifa Pashaevna Mgoyan, known by her stage name Zara, recently released her first Kurdish album titled Klama Dilê Min, meaning The Word of My Heart. This collection of ten tracks is a testament to her deep attachment to her country and her people's sorrows and pains. Zara's captivating voice transcends borders and languages, garnering her thousands of fans worldwide.
“I have always dreamed of recording an album in my native language,” Zara told Kurdistan Chronicle in an interview. “I have declared many times that this album is a tribute to my parents and ancestors. From my early childhood, I listened to Kurdish songs on cassettes, while my parents sang them. The dream and desire to recreate and explore such familiar sounds has always been within me.”
Although Zara rose to fame primarily through her Russian music, she has never forgotten her Kurdish roots. Proudly proclaiming her Kurdish identity on stage and at international concerts, Zara's passion for her heritage shines through in her songs. Her dedication to charitable and humanitarian work led to her recognition as an Ambassador of Peace by UNESCO in 2016. The Russian Federation also honored her with the title of Merited Artist that year.
“Wherever we are, we must remember our country,” Zara explained. “I have longed to record an album in Kurdish for a significant time. Singing in my mother tongue has always been my dream since I began singing at the age of twelve. It is essential to sing from the heart and soul, not solely because we are Kurds. When I sang in Kurdish five years ago, I received praise from all over the world.”
Getting to a Kurdish album
Zara's musical journey began at a young age, with her first studio album released when she was just twelve years old. Over the years, she has released more than ten albums, captivating audiences worldwide. In 2017, her Kurdish album became a reality, thanks to the support and collaboration of renowned word music star Yasmine Levy. Zara's album features remarkable songs like "Dayê", "Keça Kurdim", "Welatê min", and "Emane", with a duet with Shivan Perwer.
“I started my journey with the Kurdish album in 2017,” Zara recounts, “and then, I fortunately met the incredible singer Yasmine Levy, a world music star, with whom I became close friends. I shared with her that I had dreamt of recording a Kurdish album. She supported me and said she would help me along the journey!”
Beyond her remarkable vocal talent, Zara is a skilled pianist, having graduated with honors from a music school where she studied piano. Her musical abilities and diverse influences have shaped her artistic journey, leading her to become a prominent Kurdish-Russian artist. When asked about her favorite Kurdish singers, she fondly recalls the impact of Shivan Perwer and Ibrahim Tatlıses on her musical upbringing.
“For as long as I can remember, the voice of Shivan Perwer has been heard in our house,” Zara stated. “This is the first artist who introduced me to Kurdish music. His voice has always been very free, revolutionary, and deep, and the compositions are filled with such soul and pain. Later, I got acquainted with the music of Ibrahim Tatlıses, getting lost amongst his timbre and amazing voice.”
As a UNESCO Ambassador for Peace, Zara has used her platform to shed light on Kurdish culture and heritage internationally. Through her performances on various stages, including at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris, she highlights the importance of preserving cultural diversity and personal identity.
“UNESCO is not involved in politics,” Zara continued. “The organization implements the ideas of sustainable development in the field of culture, science, and education through international cooperation. In my speeches, I have always focused on preserving cultural diversity and allowing individuals to express their best inner selves. I proudly introduce the Kurdish culture to audiences worldwide, sharing the depth and richness of this ancient people.”
Coming to Kurdistan
Although Zara has yet to visit Kurdistan, the land of her ancestors, her heart yearns to return. With a big festival on the horizon during which many Kurdish artists will perform, she eagerly anticipates the event and the gathering of her compatriots.
“I have never been to Kurdistan, but I dream of going there,” Zara shares. “Very soon, there will be a big festival in which many Kurdish artists will perform. Not far from the festival's location is the city of Van [southeastern of Turkiye], where my grandmother lived. I feel a certain excitement, a special thrill, and happiness about this event! More than a hundred thousand of my compatriots will gather there.”
As her popularity soars in Kurdistan following the release of her recent Kurdish album, Zara plans to hold a concert at the festival, where she will perform songs from her album, delighting her audience and strengthening her connection to her Kurdish heritage.
Reflecting on her artistic journey, Zara humbly acknowledges the significance of the love and support she receives from her listeners and fans. She believes that this is the true measure of her success and the impact of her music.
"None of the numerous international awards can compare with the love of the listeners and fans," Zara asserts. "This is the most important evaluation of your work. For this reason, I sing! I really want what I do to penetrate into the hearts of people, helping and supporting them in both the most joyful and the most difficult moments."
As Zara's musical career continues to evolve, she embraces the global reach of her recent work and the opportunity to touch the lives of people from different countries and cultures. With her unwavering commitment to her roots, powerful voice, and captivating performances, Zara remains a true Kurdish artist and an ambassador of love, unity, and cultural heritage.
Khoshawi Muhammad is a journalist with extensive experience in media and press. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Sociology, a Master's degree in Political Sociology and Relationship, and a PhD in Theory, Methodology, and the History of Sociology. He has also served as a correspondent for multiple Kurdish news media operating primarily in Russia.