The Kurdish Project had the opportunity to interview Evîn Şah, a Kurdish singer and artist who is using music to connect with her roots. Learn more about how Evîn’s journey and how she advocates for Kurdish women’s voices through art.
Where were you born, and what’s your relationship with Kurdistan?
I was born and raised in Muş city in the village of Zengok in the north of Kurdîstan. When I was living in Istanbul, I used to visit my homeland a few times a year. I try to maintain a strong connection with my land. I’ve been living in the US with my family for three years now. When we got here, the pandemic started and due to the pandemic, we decided not to visit our country. I hope this situation ends so that we can visit our country in peace. Currently, I’m connected to Kurdistan through music and art and I can only get in touch with my people through social media platforms.
When did you start singing?
I have loved Kurdish music since childhood. I used to listen to Erîvan radio. I used to adore poems by Meryem Xan, Sûsika Simo, Eyşe Şan, Aram Tigran, and Karapêtê Xaço. I was really inspired by a lot of singers and artists of that period. I had a dream of standing with my people and singing songs for them just like those artists. The more I grew up, the more I felt that way. Then I paused my dream and moved to Istanbul in 2002 to study music at the conservatory. In 2007, I graduated from that school successfully. At that time, I was a professional singer in Kurdish music. I’ve been training my voice for nine years and I have composed music for various TV channels, movies, TV series, documentaries and short films. I have also been the performer of my soundtrack. As a Kurdish artist, I have participated in a lot of parties and concerts. I have also been present in Turkey’s official channels and have performed old Kurdish songs in Kurmancî, Soranî, Zazaki and Turkish. I have been the TV presenter for many programs and have performed in various cities in Turkey, Russia and Germany.
What role does art, music and education play in Kurdish culture / in Kurdistan?
I only know about the north of Kurdistan. Unfortunately, in this region, there are not a lot of opportunities for pursuing art. Kurdish boys and girls are very passionate about creating art, but sadly, there is no platform for them to show their work. In the north of Kurdistan, you cannot get educated in Kurdish language. Young people have to study in Turkish and you will be eventually influenced by the language you have been taught with and unfortunately, this is a negative impact for us. Therefore, we don’t have any chance of expressing our culture. Anyway, Music is still the most progressive art in Kurdish society. It has an important role in our culture and protects our Kurdish souls. These days, Kurdish boys and girls have been experimenting with new musical styles using the new technologies for making music on an international level.
Does your music keep you connected to Kurdistan? In what ways?
My soul connects me to my homeland, Kurdistan. If I didn’t have a soul, I wouldn’t feel anything in my music. You might’ve heard a song from various singers, but each of them gives you a certain kind of feeling, because everyone performs the song with their own feelings and passions.
What does it mean to be a woman artist in Kurdish culture / in Kurdistan?
A Kurdish woman cannot freely express her art. There is always a barrier to stop her. If she can find a way out and has the support of her father, brother, husband or friends, then she can be free to create art. This is when the Kurdish culture will be revolutionized. A successful Kurdish woman can raise good children and be the pride and joy of his father, brother, husband and her friends. This can lead to the success of everyone. Nowadays, we have a lot of female Kurdish artists. I get thrilled when I see these successful female artists. This makes me even more hopeful. If women are not stopped, they can freely sing their songs and present their art. This way, the world will be a better place to live in.
What achievement are you most proud of when it comes to your music?
I consider myself more successful in Dengbêjî. These days we are fully aware that our Dengbej have protected our language, music and culture through their works. That’s why I find its very important to sing Dengbêjî songs. I’m very into poems and when I sing, I feel them in my soul. Also, I have created fine works in music. I acted as a singer in the movie made for the festival and performed a few songs as well. I played a role in a 56-episode TV-series and I used to sing a song in each episode. Apart from these activities, I have performed songs and composed music for various TV-series, documentaries, and short films.
What impact does music have in Kurdish culture?
In Kurdish culture, music is the most progressive art major. Kurdish music can now be heard all across the globe and this way, Kurdish culture is introduced on a global level.
What goals and motivations does “Evin” have for her artistic future and how can TKP be effective in starting to achieve her goals?
My husband – Oktay Sahin – and I will release an album of nursery songs. We’ve been working on these songs for a long time. The lyrics have been written by Oktay Sahin and me. We would like to dedicate these songs to the children of our homeland. Children are the future. We must try as hard as we can to create a free society for them. They have the right to speak their mother language and listen to their favorite songs.
In my second project, I would like to work on an album, which is about old traditional Kurdish songs. I also have poems written by Kurdish poets and I’m planning to work on them and record songs.
TKP is doing an important job for Kurdish art and culture. This digital agency makes Kurdish artists’ works known to the whole world. I would like to thank all the TKP members for their great work and efforts.