Banned from performing in public in her home country, like every other female singer, legendary Iranian folk musician Sima Bina was recently on stage in the German city of Cologne.
As a specialist of Iranian folk music, she says she seeks inspiration in every corner of Iran. However, the ban on women performing solo in her homeland means she has performed all over the world except there.
“It is disappointing that I cannot sing in Iran, because the music I have collected belongs to the people and I yearn to go on tour and deliver to the people what I have learned from them. But I know it is not possible and this disappointment is sometimes reflected in my songs,” she says.
Starting at the age of nine on a children’s programme on national radio, Sima soon had her own show dedicated to folk music and has devoted her career to reviving forgotten folk songs and melodies. Her work covers the whole spectrum of folk music from across Iran and further afield.
According to Euronews’ Mohammad Mohammadi: “Sima Bina has not limited her art to the folk music of Iran. Half of her recent concert in Cologne was made up of Afghan music performed with Afghan artists.”
“Our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan are part of our nation. We speak the same language. The borders are defined by politics, but the people are close and this togetherness can be strengthened by music,” says Sima Bina.
Her greatest achievement has been making folk music attractive to a younger generations. She has, however, resisted the temptation to alter the original compositions.
“I leave the innovation up to young musicians,” she explains. “They need the right base model. My mission is to act as a bridge between generations. Therefore, I would rather perform and record folk music in its original form so that it can serve as a reference to others.”
Among the music released by Sima Bina is a collection of Iranian folk lullabies, as she says a lullaby is a treasure trove that offers understanding of different cultures through the use of language, melody and tone.