As powerful and popular many protest songs have been throughout history they have not had their own category at one of the world’s largest music awards ceremony – until now.
The annual Grammy Awards, in the US, have now added a new category called “Best Song for Social Change”. With this The Recording Academy aims to recognise songs with profound social influence and impact.
One song in particular has by now received a vast amount of submissions for the new award. “Baraye” by 25-year-old Iranian musician, Shervin Hajipour, was written in response to the death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini.
The song went viral on social media, gaining over 40 million views, before Hajipour was arrested by Iranian authorities. The artist has since then been released on bail.
In a recent Instagram post, Hajipour denied any links to any “movement or organisation outside the country” and said clarified that his song was only meant to “express solidarity with the people”.
In a statement, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr said: “The Academy is deeply moved by the overwhelming volume of submissions for Shervin Hajipour’s ‘Baraye’ for our new Special Merit Award, Best Song for Social Change.
“While we cannot predict who might win the award, we are humbled by the knowledge that the Academy is a platform for people who want to show support for the idea that music is a powerful catalyst for change.
“The Academy steadfastly supports freedom of expression and art that’s created to empower communities in need. Because music serves the world, and the Recording Academy exists to serve music.”
Iranian singer Shervin Hajipour risked arrest when he recently posted a song on Instagram about the anti-government protests raging across the country.
Those fears were realized on September 29, when the young artist was arrested by police officers in Tehran, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda has learned. His current whereabouts remain unknown. It is also unclear what, if any, charges were brought against him.
Before it was removed from the social media platform on the same day, Hajipour’s song had garnered more than 40 million views.
His moving song is based on the outpouring of public anger following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody on September 16. Her death has triggered more than two weeks of daily protests in the country.
The protests have provoked a deadly state crackdown, with law enforcement and security forces killing scores of demonstrators and detaining hundreds of others, according to human rights groups.
Amini was detained by Iran’s morality police on September 13 for allegedly violating the country’s hijab law. Three days later, she was declared dead in a hospital. Activists and relatives say she was killed as a result of blows to the head sustained in detention. The authorities claim she died of a heart attack.
Since her death, Amini’s name has become a rallying cry against decades of state discrimination and violence.
Hajipour’s song is composed of tweets by Iranians following Amini’s death. Many of the tweets blame the country’s social, economic, and political ills on the country’s clerical regime.
“For the shame of having no money,” reads one of the tweets in Hajipour’s song.
“For the fear of kissing a lover on the street,” says another tweet.
Washington-based political activist Ali Afshari said Hajipour had become “the voice of the protesters.”
“His song describes the various problems of the people and the course of events leading to the [current] nationwide protests. Young people like him bring hope for the future,” Afshari said on Twitter on September 29.
Many Iranian social media users have criticized Hajipour’s arrest on unknown charges.
Hajipour is among the dozens of artists, activists, and journalists who have been arrested since the protests erupted.
On September 29, police also arrested poet Mona Borzouei, who had published a poem in support of the protests.
“We will take back this homeland from your clutches,” said Borzouei, reciting her poem in a video posted on social media on September 22.
The authorities also arrested female artist Donya Rad, who attracted online praise after she posted a photo of herself eating out in Tehran without a head scarf in an image that went viral on social media. Rad’s sister said she was taken to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.
Authorities have also stepped up their warnings against public figures and celebrities who have backed the protests and criticized the state crackdown.
“We will take action against the celebrities who have fanned the flames of the riots,” Tehran provincial Governor Mohsen Mansouri was quoted as saying on September 39 by the semiofficial ISNA news agency.
Copyright (c)2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Used with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.
Home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, Iran is well known for its incredibly rich and diverse culture. It is the birthplace of some of the first known complex musical instruments and there is documentation of song and music being part of life in Iran for millenniums.
Hiphop culture is one of the most recent variations to enter Iranian music culture but especially since the Islamic revolution in 1979 being a rapper in Iran has become troublesome.
The Iranian regime has in recent years reigned down on free speech and artistic expression, a sad fact about a country that once was at the forefront of culture and human rights.
On March 18 this year, a collective of young artists and rappers came together to create a massive production, a song called Khanevadegi 2 (which translates to Family 2). The following music video featuring 39 rappers from every province of Iran, showing each province’s cultural heritage through clothing, landscapes and language. The video could feature more women though, so we stay hopeful for Khanevadegi 3.
Recorded in secret, over the span of two years, the video depicts frustration and sadness over the bleak situation facing artists and civilians in today’s Iran. Featuring Persians, the largest ethnic group, as well as Arab, Azeri, Baluch, Gilaki, Kurdish, Lur, Mazanderani, and Semnani ethnic minorities, the video portrays some if Iran’s beautiful and historic monuments and sites.
The mammoth of a video comes fully equipped with English subtitles so there is no excuse not to dive in and give it a listen.