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Posted on: October 1, 2018

Iranian Artist Spotlight

Googoosh: Singer and Actress

Googoosh, given the moniker “Iran’s Daughter,” has become the most iconic voice and face in modern Iranian music. Her career as an adored performer was cut short by the Iranian Revolution, but the adoration of her fans kept her relevant throughout her decades of mandated silence. Since returning to the spotlight, Googoosh has release successful studio albums, sold out venues on worldwide tours, and now hosts her own television show. Throughout her career, Googoosh has become emblematic of resilience and has cemented her place as a cultural icon.

Googoosh was born in 1950 in Iran’s capital, Tehran. She had an early introduction to the world of entertainment because her father was a performer. Watching him on stage, she began to mimic his skills and by the age of 3 she was a part of his act. She quickly won the hearts of crowds with her impersonations, and later in her career she honed the singing and acting skills that made her a household name.

By the 1970s, Googoosh had hit the height of her success thus far. She had become a movie star, leading in films alongside famous and publicly adored actors. She released pop albums that were played on repeat in coffee shops, bars, and clubs. She became the number one style icon among Iranian women, even having a hair style named after her. Her fame and success led to her introduction to the Shah and his family. She instantly became a regular at parties hosted by the royal family, often performing for the audiences there.

Googoosh’s Makhloogh Performance

By the end of the 1970s, Iranian public opinion was shifting away from the modernization and globalization that was taking place under the rule the Shah. The Iranian Revolution was in full force after the Shah had fled the country in 1979, and Khomeini ultimately consolidated power as the country’s new leader by 1982. During this time of chaos and bloodshed, Googoosh was in Los Angeles. She decided to return to Iran, however, because she was missing her homeland dearly. This decision meant that she would no longer be able to sing or perform without retribution from her new government. With the onset of the newly established Islamic Republic of Iran under the Ayatollah came strict rules for how the Iranian people were allowed to act in public. One of these laws banned women from singing in public and made it illegal for them to distribute music. Additionally, the distribution and listening to of pop music was banned nationally. Despite these harsh laws, many Iranians continued to listen to and share the music Googoosh had made before the revolution away from the watchful eye of the government.

 

It was not until the 1990s, however, that Googoosh found herself back in a recording studio. By this time, Khomeini had passed away and Khatami, a centrist reformist who was pushing the country back toward modernity, was elected president of Iran.  With the permission of Khatami and the Iranian government, Googoosh kicked off an international comeback tour in 2000. After twenty years of radio silence, this was the first time she sang publicly and it was the first time she had left Iran since her return during the revolution. During the tour, Googoosh was met with crowds of cheering fans and sold out arenas. To this day, she continues to tour Europe, North America and the Middle East. She has also become a television personality, hosting her own show called Googoosh Music Academy. Despite the political and personal hardships she has endured, Googoosh has continued to be a beloved figure in her community over the last half century.