A group of Iranian musicians have contributed to a new compilation, Homanity, to raise awareness about the censorship and persecution artists face in Iran. The compilation was spearheaded by Crowdsourcing Human Rights and Democracy Council, and will be released May 7th.
Accompanying the announcement are two tracks from the compilation: “Yadam Nemire (Not Gonna Forget)” by pop artist Nikita, and “Soldiering,” by the metal band Tarantist.
On “Yadam Nemire,” Nikita — who was born in Iran but grew up in Sweden after her family emigrated — rides an upbeat groove while delivering a vocal performance that’s still steeped in nostalgia. Her Farsi lyrics translate to English as, “My feelings will never fade away/Doesn’t matter how many years slip away/The flame of this love is still burning/Will last no matter what comes in the way.”
Tarantist, meanwhile, emerged from Tehran’s underground rock and metal scene in 2000. Their Homanity contribution, “Soldiering,” addresses Iran’s mandatory military conscription for men, who must serve for two years, without pay or benefits, if they want to go to university, get a passport, or participate in other economic activities. Many who do not want to serve — including one of the original members of Taranist — are forced to flee Iran, and as bassist/singer Arash Rahbary explains, that comes with its own set of consequences.
“People who escape the country (sneaking out from mountains in the borders) without having passport or military service documents (the equivalent of DD214 in the U.S.), are not able to return back to the country or even travel freely throughout the rest of the world,” he said (his old bandmate remains stranded in Turkey).
Per a release, the aim of the Homanity compilation is to amplify and showcase artists whose work has been censored by the Iranian government. The compilation’s title is a reference to the Persian mythological phoenix, Homa. Additional information about the artists who contributed to Homanity is available on the project’s website.
“We strongly believe that this program will empower not just artists and activists but music listeners as well,” Democracy Council’s Marjan Greenblatt said in a statement. “Lasting change doesn’t happen overnight, but to start the first ripples of progress, we need to hear from those voices who have shamed and silenced. We need to hear from those who are different from us to acknowledge their struggles.”