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Chapter 9

Sima's Choices


Sima in Mazanderani dress, which she chooses to wear at most public performances
Photographer unknown. Copyright Sima Shokrani.

Negotiating Repertoires and Identities in Contemporary Iran
by Gay Breyley

Sima Shokrani, an Iranian singer specializing in Mazanderani repertoire and language, was profoundly influenced by the work songs of her grandmother, demonstrating an engagement with political and ideological issues from childhood, as she challenged linguistic constraints and participated in the revolution of 1979 as a university student of twenty-one. She has shaped her career as woman singer within the well-known constraints in Iran, as restrictions are placed around women singers by law. Making choices to sing songs that articulate women's agency in romantic and other relationships, she negotiates her multiple identities in private and public singing contexts. Supported by her husband, and despite the painful migration of her daughters to Germany, Sima chooses to remain in Iran, where she fulfills a role as a senior woman.

Gay Breyley: "Since 2005 I have conducted regular fieldwork in the northern Iranian province of Mazanderan, where I met Sima and a range of other singers and musicians, professional and non-professional. I have spent a lot of time as a guest and friend of Sima and her musician friends, listening to Sima sing in social contexts and watching her teach young women, as well as conducting interviews with Sima about her life and opinions. I'd like to say that she's the most generous person in every way--with her music and hospitality."

Shevash 1

Shevash 2

Shevash 4

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