Navid Zardi lives in Dusseldorf, Germany. Photo: N. Zardi/Facebook
TORONTO, Canada – He is loved by tens of thousands of fans, but emerging Kurdish singer and songwriter Navid Zardi fears he may soon have to give up on his love for music.
Who knows, when Zardi performs with the highly established and popular Kurdish singer Nazer Razazi at a Newroz concert in Stockholm on March 22, it could be the last time he goes on stage.
Zardi, who resides in the German city of Dusseldorf and sings mostly in Kurdish, says that he needs to be able to pay his rent, and music does not earn him an adequate living. His savings are ending and he has to decide between his devotion to music and the harsh realities of life.
The singer says he is touched that he has fans everywhere. “Some of my fans email me from small villages I had never heard of before,” he says. He is amazed and touched by the supportive emails he receives from the Kurds he doesn’t know.
But, that is not enough to keep him going, he says.
Zardi sings in a variety of styles such as pop, hip-hop and rap and his songs have social, political, romantic and even sometimes highly personal themes, expressing his strong emotions, objections, insights into life and sympathies for those in distress.
“My emotions are the purest when I sing in Kurdish,” Zardi says..
He was one of the first Kurdish singers who immediately released a protest music video when Farzad Kamangar, the Kurdish teacher, poet and human rights activist was executed by the Iranian government in May 2010, charged with “enmity with God.”
The music video project was a collaboration with the well-known avant-garde Iranian artist, Shahin Najafi.
Kurdish university student Sane Jaleh’s death in 2011, during an anti-government protest in Tehran, also triggered Zardi’s creative and artist talents, resulting in a music video in which Zardi empathizes deeply with Jaleh’s mother.
For the most part, Zardi writes his own songs. Although inclined towards originality, he says that at times he finds lyrics that he knows are beyond his own creativity. That’s when he sings someone else’s poems.
Even though Zardi usually responds to his environment in a timely manner, such as the situation of the Kurds in Syria, he is not an artist who would force or limit himself to occasional singing.
When it comes to song writing, Zardi does not follow an agenda. “I allow the moment and my strong emotions shape and write my lyrics.”
The son of a political activist, Zardi left his hometown of Mahabad for Germany in 2010. That is when he discovered that: “My Kurdish roots are more important to me in exile than they were at home.”
Zardi has been writing songs and singing for many years, yet he finds himself writing about Kurds much more now than when he was home.
This does not mean that the artist does not like Europe. He enjoys his life in Germany because this self-imposed exile, despite the bitterness, means less anguish for him. “I am not constantly harassed by the political and cultural oppression I suffered from in Iran,” he says.
“I don’t really want to give up on music,” Zardi explains at last. “But if I have to, I want my fans to know why I had to make that decision.”
Zardi’s music is available on soundcloud.com