This article originally appeared in Kurdistan 24.
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish singer and songwriter Vivian Nouri, known by her artist name Nouri, says she hopes to perform in the Kurdistan Region soon having received overwhelming support from Kurds in the homeland and around the world.
Kurdistan 24 spoke with the 24-year-old about her music career, upcoming projects, and the challenges she faced in pursuing her dream of becoming a singer.
Nouri was born in a Syrian refugee camp after her family fled the Kurdistan Region in 1991. Her parents were denied entry into bordering Iran and instead went to Syria to seek refuge from the brutalities of the Saddam Hussein regime.
In 1995, after Nouri was born, her family moved to New Zealand which would become their new home.
Although she now lives in Los Angeles in the United States, the Kurdish singer says she wants to return to Kurdistan one day to perform her music for her fans back home.
“I definitely want to be performing in Kurdistan. I’ve received an overwhelming amount of support on Instagram and Facebook from all my Kurdish brothers and sisters back home. I love you all,” she told Kurdistan 24.
The Kurdish artist has not been back since her family fled the Region but says her mom, from Kirkuk, visits Kurdistan often and wants to take Nouri and her five other siblings with her in the future.
“I definitely want to go and pay a visit to my family and to be performing over there really, really soon. Me and my siblings, we actually haven’t [been back] just because there’s so many of us—there’s five girls and one boy.”
“Trying to get all of us to go at the same time is so hard, but my mom definitely is trying to get us to go so I think this time around we definitely will,” she adds.
Despite being miles away from the homeland, Nouri says Kurdish culture and tradition is very much alive in her household, noting that her mom “makes the best dolma and biryani.”
“I still speak Kurdish at home, and me and my siblings all do just because my mom only speaks Kurdish at home. She doesn’t want to speak English to us in case we forget the language. So, if we want to speak to my mom we literally have to speak in Kurdish otherwise we’re not going to get anything out of it!”
Growing up in New Zealand, Nouri recalls the challenges her family experienced, especially her mom with transportation and language barriers, but says the experiences shaped herself and her siblings into the people they are today.
The challenges have “helped me grow and be so independent and allow me to come out to LA by myself and it’s just made me such a strong person now, and I feel like I can face anything from what we went through back in the past.”
“I’m really, really grateful for our past and I wouldn’t change it for a thing,” she adds.
The Kurdish singer’s interest in pursuing a career in music began at a young age when she would watch American pop stars like Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, and Whitney Houston on TV.
At 9-years-old, Nouri received a standing ovation from the audience during a performance at a talent quest in Australia. It was then that her family recognized her talent, she says.
“Ever since then, I’ve really been wanting to do it professionally.”
Her dream of becoming a professional music artist took off when she moved to LA where she met a man named Jason Richmond in 2016. A year later, while at the gym, Nouri received a call from Richmond asking if she would be interested in recording a song. “I was like, ‘Yea! I can!’”
“I hadn’t even listened to the song when he called, but as soon as I got to the studio we had to record it, so it was just—it happened so quickly. I recorded the song within less than two hours.”
A week later, she received an email from Richmond revealing that the song would be used in an upcoming Hollywood film, Daddy’s Home 2.
“I was just shocked, and I called my mom straight away, I just couldn’t believe it. That really was just a big moment in my life, and I will forever remember it.”
Nouri describes living in Hollywood as “a blessing” and says it has “always been a dream” of hers.
She is currently working on a five to six-track EP with a host of talented producers from all over the US. “I can’t give you a release date right now, but I can say that it is going to be sooner than expected.”
Nouri describes her style of music as a mixture of R&B and Pop but admits that she loves all genres of music, including country and even trap music.
She has performed covers for songs by British recording artist Adele and American icon Rihanna and says the women are two of her favorite artists.
“I love her voice, her tone and the way her songs are written and just—I love music I can relate to and her music is definitely music I can relate to. As well as Rihanna, actually. Both their voices and their tones are ones I really, really connect with.”
Nouri also shared some advice for aspiring musicians like herself. She underscored the importance of finding one’s passion and working hard to achieve your goals.
“Don’t listen to anyone that tells you [that] you can’t do it because that’s literally what happened to me and look where I am now; I’m in LA living my dream. I just had one goal and one vision, and I just went for it.”
She explains that her purpose now is to share her story with other Kurds and non-Kurds who face obstacles in their lives to encourage them to pursue their dreams.
“You only have one life and you just really have to go for it no matter what anybody says or what society says or anything like that. Live your dream, and don’t lose faith and hope.”
This article was originally published in Kurdistan 24.