Helly Luv, a Kurdish-born pop star, isn’t letting death threats from ISIS stop her from standing up for victims of terror. The rising star, who is based in Los Angeles, decided that her most recent music video would be shot in Iraqi Kurdistan — several miles from the front line with ISIS.
Helly Luv: From Refugee to Star
Helly Luv, or Helan Abdulla, was born in 1998 in the Kurdish Region of Iran, where her family was seeking refuge from Saddam Hussein’s Al Anfal genocide. From Iran, her family escaped to Turkey, and then to Finland. In 2006, Helly saved up enough money to move to Los Angeles, where she eventually found work as a choreographer, an actress, and finally, a singer.
After returning to Iraq in 2013, Helly says that she was blown away by all the development in Erbil. Her first song, “Risk it All” was recorded in Iraq and was released last year. See the music video below.
I wanted to create a song that would represent my life as well, but also the Kurdish people fighting so long and risking everything for a dream.
“Risking it All” in Iraq
Helly Luv’s most recent music video was filmed in Iraqi Kurdistan. Luv says that, at points, the crew was only three kilometers away from ISIS fighters. The music video took three months to film, and features real Peshmerga fighters.
Luv says that the inspiration for her outfits in the videos come from her mother, who was a Peshmerga fighter before she was born. Some Kurds don’t care for Luv’s flashiness, but in an interview with NPR, one 21-year old Kurdish Islamic law student said of Luv, “that’s what she wants to do, and you can’t stop her.”[Read more here and listen to Helly Luv speak with NPR]