The complexity, yet harmony, between two individuals opposite in nature united through interpersonal relationships has perhaps been best dealt with in the Symposium by Greek philosopher Plato who produced work of unparalleled influence; yet, millenniums later, the quest for identifying ourselves in another person continues.
Lucid, invigorating talent between two artists teaming up across continents will likely produce a quality outcome, but in this particular time capsule, it reprised a century of wounds pierced at the very center of the heart for the Assyrian nation, worldwide.
Iиtяoducфion to Assyrian Music & Singers in Яussia (USSR)
Assyrians came to Russia and the Soviet Union in three main waves. The first wave was after the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828, that delineated a border between Russia and Persia. Many Assyrians found themselves suddenly under Russian sovereignty and thousands of relatives crossed the border to join them.
The second wave was as a result of the Genocide and violence during and after World War I.
The third wave came after World War II, when Moscow unsuccessfully tried to establish a satellite state in the region of Urmi in Iran. Soviet troops withdrew in 1946, and left the Assyrians exposed to exactly the same kind of massacres that they had suffered under the Turks 30 years earlier.
Again, many Assyrians found refuge in the Soviet Union, this time mainly in the cities. As a result of that, from 1937 to 1959 the Assyrian population grew in USSR. The Soviets in the thirties oppressed the Assyrians and persecuted religious and other leaders.
After the collapse of the Soviet union in 1991 religious and ethnic persecution eased, and people are free to practice their faith again, and many formed states became independent countries, such as Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan and many others.
Assyrian Communities in Russia continue to thrive, as they celebrate their heritage at annual cultural festivals held in the spring and fall. They held numerous festivals, Assyrian New Year celebrations, and Shara’s which commemorate the Saints and Martyrs of the Assyrian Church. One of the most known gathering is held every year in early May, called the Festival of “Khubba”, that’s when Assyrians from all over Russia gather in the village of Urmi in Russia, and it consists of Assyrian football tournament, various folk groups performing Assyrian folk dances, bands playing live music, and has become a great opportunity for Assyrian youths to meet and share their culture and language with each others.
-Elbrus Khasko, Gardabani village
-Sara Bit Kash (Bitbunova), city of Tbilisi 1927
-Mikhail Alaverdov, Tbilisi
-Gena Bitmalkishu, Tbilisi
– Ludmila Khoshaba, Moscow
– Stella Rezgo, Moscow
– Madlen Ishoeva, Oriol
– Nargiz Mirzaeva
– Georgi Yuhanaev
– Dimitrie (Dmitry Mirzaev) and his Son, Moscow
– Garry Rezgo, April 14, 1965, Moscow
– Mariam Tziklauri, Moscow-Tbilisi
– Vladislav Shumunov, Novocherkassk
– Slawik Shumunov, Novocherkassk
– Andrey Azo, Moscow
– Andrey Mikhaylov, (opera singer), Moscow
– Melikov band,Tamara Melikova, Rostov
– Ina Nadirova, St. Petersburg
– Kaprielov’s band (Rafik and Nazi)
– Boris Slivoev, St. Petersburg
– Leonid Edigarov, music composer
– Vaso Sadoev, musician Duduk instrument
– Nura Tamrazova
– Alexander Tamrazov
– Madnkha Band from Nezhin city, Ukraine: Arsen Simonov, Avetis Balayants, Miroslav Simonov.
– Bozo Sarkisov, Zurna and son Lionia (daula), 1970s, Gorlovka town
Army document dated to 1937
of an Assyrian Sniper in the Russian Army, Leon Yaqo Yosip, born 1897, from Armenia, village of Divin.
Assyrian Family from Russia includes a number of Musicians
Assyrian Church in Moscow (Mart Mariam)
Sara Bit Kash (Bitbunova), born in 1927 in the city of Tbilisi, Georgia. her family was originally from Jelu in Hakkari. During WWII 1941, she left school and begun working at the age of 14 in a weapon manufacturing company. She married in 1944 when she was 18 to a 22 year old Assyrian man serving in the Army. She had seven children, and her extended family now numbers more than fifty, God bless them all. She begun singing in weddings and parties with a group of ladies, this short bio was taken from an interview in 2013 conducted by (Hagyana-Atouraya Site).
#A song taken from an interview
Ludmila Khoshaba is well-known singer and songwriter from Russia with six official albums and numerous concerts under her belt. She began her musical career in the late ’80s, when she became member of the Assyrian folkloric “Shamiram” group. The group quickly gained international popularity and by 1991 they were invited by the Assyrian American Association to preform in the United States.
While being a member of the group Ludmila also recorded and released an album in Germany in 1992, and her first music video.
Despite the success of the group, it later became impossible to run and organise the group, because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic instability that followed.
However, with Mikhail Sergeev, producer and manager, Ludmilla began to build her own musical career. She focuses on her own music and have found great potential and personal creativity. Ludmila dedication to Assyrian music and its people is an inspiration to younger generations who are learning to take from her songs and their Assyrian culture, traditions and faith in God to the next level.
“For You” was the title for Ludmila’s 2004 album, released with 10 songs recorded in Garry Studio, produced by Alex Gorchakov, Russia. (photo on the right)
Vol.1 – Voice from Russia 1991
Vol.2 – Kamoo Let Betkhari 2002
Vol.3 – For You 2004
Vol.4 – Nazdarta 2008
Vol.5 – Tannana 2010
#Atra: lyrics & Music by Ludmila Khoshaba 2010
Ashur band from Gardabani city, Georgia, 1980s
Stella Rezgo was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, while she was still an infant her family relocated to Moscow, where she was raised. She began performing and writing her own songs at a young age, never forgetting her Assyrian roots, she had made a career as a female lead singer touring Europe with a band of talented musicians and an Assyrian dance ensemble called ‘Shamiram’ in 1994.
Inspired by the tour’s success she eagerly continued to work on her first album and simultaneously worked as a host at the Assyrian radio station “Kalah Atyraya” in Moscow from 1994-1996 in a team with a great educator/writer Marona Arsanis.
Stella immigrated to Canada in 1996 where she currently resides. Upon moving she has continued her musical career. Her music was heard in the United States and Canada where it touched the heart of the Assyrian and Russian Communities. Stella is able to write songs and sing in the Assyrian, Russian and English languages.
#Qola Aldiyana: Lyrics & Music by Stella Rezgo 1998
Mikhail Alaverdov was born in 1930 in Leningrad (Saint Petersburg). In Tbilisi he graduated from the alfray department of the M. Toidze art specialized school. The people knew him not only as a talented singer, composer, actor, but also as a fine master of wall painting. He was a master with his brush and did the restoration work when renovating the interior of the Opera and Ballet Theater of Z.Paliashvili, and the Theater of Sh. Rustaveli. His works executed with a craftsmanship his work still decorate the building of the Sovereign Court and the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia. His peak singing years were between 1950s-1970s. Some of his records were released in 1960s in Tbilisi.
#Footage of Mikhail Alaverdov: singing a romantic song on stage in 1991 in Russia, accompanied by a Piano player.
Vladislav Shumunov: He was the most popular and beloved Assyrian singer in Russia between 1980’s and 2000’s, the famed singer for parties, weddings and Shara festivals. In 1978 he established his band named “Atourayi”, his first concert was performed in Urmia village in Russia 1978, his band members were Vecheslav Shumunov, Vladislav Shumunov, Antoliy Chichilov.
This album was released in 2002 with 10 tracks,
#track from his 2002 CD, a cover version of Ashur Bet Sargis song sung by Vladislav.
Madlen Ishoeva a talented new Assyrian star from Russia, a musically educated artist with two studio albums, she performed verity of songs including her own and old folkloric songs, her first album was arranged by the Assyrian musician Alexander Bakuz titled: Rodanet Khubi and was released in 2010, her second album was released in 2011 titled: Modeton Mara. Both arranged in modern pop style, and I am sure we will hear more from her soon.
#9 – Dunyi Mini Kam Parshalukh 2011
Lyrics by: Misho Khishto
Melody by: Christian Odicho Roeel
Nura Tamrazova released one official album in 2005 titled Urmia, contained nine tracks. She has participated in numerous concerts, parties and festivals over the years.
#06 Nazdari from her 2005 CD
Gary Rezgo Was born in 1965 and is living in Moscow, has released three albums, we think that his first album (pictured on left) was released in 2000 titled “group Assyria”, then in 2002 another album Vol.3 was released titled “Youma Khvara” (picture on right) contained nine tracks , and in 2011 I received a Live album of songs both in Assyrian and Russian. But I have not managed to find Vol.2 Studio album yet.
#Bassa ta B Khoulmani
Lyrics & Music by Garry Rezgo 2002
Vaso Sadoev: The Sado family migrated in 1828 from their ancestral Assyrian homeland (Urmia) to Armenia, where they continued to practice their family profession as musicians. This tradition has been kept through all these years from grandfather to father. Today many members of Sado family work as professional musicians and perform for all occasions to Assyrian and other communities.
Two brothers of the Sadoev family are masters in music instrument making, Mikhael and Andrey Sadoev own a music workshop in Eravan Armenia. They specialize in making many strings and wind instruments such as; Oud, Saz, Zurna, Violin, Tamboura, Qanun, both brothers pictured below.
Vaso Sadoev is both a Zurna and Clarinet player, and is also a singer. The albums that I have been able to document from our originals and the internet are:
Vol.1 – 1995 Yimma (Songs)
Vol.2 – 1996 Assyrian Tunes (Zurna & Dahola)
Vol.3 – 2006 Armenian Tunes (Clarinet)
Vol.4 – 2012 Assyrian cover Songs (Live)
Vol.5-2012 Assyrian & Georgian Songs (Live)
#Song by the voice of Vaso
#Zurna track from Vol.2-1996 album
Demitrie (Dimitry) Mirzaev and his Son Ashour Mirzaev. He released one tape when he was on a musical tour with the Assyrian dance group in USA, album contained Ten songs, both cover versions and original songs. One track is included below from the album,
Gena Bet Malkishu: released his debut album in 2001 titled “Jmemoun” with the support of the Assyrian international congress of Georgia. CD contained 10 tracks, Lyrics written by his uncle: Bet Malkishu Benyamin, Music by: Bet Malkishu Dmitri, Arranged by Bet Malkishu John and Gena. Recorded in “GAMA” Studio, Tbilisi Georgia.
#Jmemoun, Lyrics: Bet Malkishu Benyamin, Music: Bet Malkishu Dmitri.
Madnkha Band (Ukraine)
Assyrian band released this album in 2007 in Ukraine, titled “Brata d-Atour”, with twelve tracks, original and cover songs.
Elbrus Khasko, Tiflis Georgia
Andrey Mikhailov (Tenor): Born in Russia in 1987. Graduated from the Musical Pedagogical Institute named M.M. Ippolitova-Ivanova in 2014. Laureate of the International Opera Singers Competition in 2014. Laureate of the Moscow Festival-Competition in 2017. Currently continues to study music, performs in chamber and symphony concerts. has a number of Assyrian cover version songs online.
#Cover version of Ashur Bet Sargis song; Tanili Lay Lay, from his 1979 LP
#Assyrian Folk Dance group
Compiled & edited by Moneer Cherie
with the assistance of Mr. Vasili Shoumanov
Habib Mousa was born in Malikiyeh-Syria on October 9, 1952 and raised in Qamishli where he studied at the Syriac school. He was appointed at the age of ten to be the lead singer of the choir after his voice was recognized by Yousef Shamun. Since his early childhood he liked the church melodies that made him a deacon. Church was his source of inspiration and music.
His professional musical career started in 1968 in Qamishli, he was chosen to be the first singer to sing a Folkloric song in the spoken western Assyrian dialect with his first song “Shamo Mar”.
In 1971 Habib Mousa moved to Beirut to play an important role in spreading the modern Syriac folk songs. In Beirut he met the famed Assyrian composer Nouri Iskandar where together released Five records (singles) in modern western Assyrian. These songs are still popular until now.
Habib Mousa is considered a giant of Assyrian music in western dialect, and collaborated in his early records with another giant of Assyrian music, the famed composer and conductor Nouri Iskandar.
Nuri Iskandar is considered one of the most important living Assyrian composers, he was director of the Music Conservatory of Aleppo in Syria. He was born in Deir al-Zur to an Assyrian family originally from Urfa in modern-day Turkey. He studied at the higher institute of music at the University of Cairo Between 1959 and 1964 and graduated with B.A degree in music. Left Syria due to war and now is living in Sweden.
Compiled & written by Moneer Cherie For www.Qeenatha.com
Habib Mousa released this single in Lebanon by Flex company in 1971, 1-‘Laymoutho w-Hubo, Lyrics by Amanuel Salamon, Music Nouri Iskander 2-Lebi Kriho-Yo, Lyrics by Danho Dahho, Music by Nuri Iskander.
This single was released in 1971 on Flex label in Lebanon, #7217, with two track 1-O Habibo (lyrics by: Abdelmasih Bisseh) 2-Lo Tehfokh (Lyrics by: Joseph Tazi), Music for both tracks by Nouri Iskander
This single was released by Habib Mousa in Lebanon on Flex in 1972 with two songs, 1-Zabno Tloumo (feat.Nineweh Aho) 2-Shlome Shlome, both Lyrics written by Shabo Bahe and Music by Nouri Iskander.
This record was released by Habib Mousa in 1972 with two songs, 1-Zliqe Frisi, lyrics by Shabo Bahe, music Folk 2-G-Rohmo-No O Habibaydi, Lyrics written by Abdelmasih Bisseh and Music by Nuri Iskander.
This single was released in 1971 by Habib Mousa on Kimaphone label in Syria #7645. came with two songs, 1-Shamo Mar 2-Wardo w Afrem feat.Samira Khouri. both written by Danho Danho and music by Pol Mikhael.
Worthy of mention is this cassette tape released in 1989 containing 11 Assyrian folkloric songs in the Eastern dialect, completed and Mixed in Nineveh Studio in Sweden, accompanied by four musicians in traditional instruments.
Fuad Ramzi released this single in 1971 in Syria, on Ershadphon, produced by Hammo Ofestaqchi, Two songs titled (1) Hema u Haye, (2) Noqusho, bother written by Shabo bahe including music.
Jano Barbar released this record in 1971 in Syria on A.C.A “Qala d Mardutha”, song titles are (1) Talakh Ya Khliti written by Amanouel Salamon (2) Habib At Haye written by Abrohom Lahdo, both music by Nouri Iskander. The song “Habib At Haye” was sung by Jalil Maiilo in 1969 but was distributed as bootleg copy and not on an official record, and as I understand it was sung in a different dialect.
Pol Mikhayel released this record in Syria in 1971 on Kamichly Kimaphone, song titled: Kmisawri L Quli, Lyrics written by Danho Danho, Music by Pol Mikhayel. song was first recorded before the summer of 1971 in Qamishli, and then it’s Reel-to-Reel (Original Track) was taken to Beirut to be pressed. First version of this song was sung by Habib Mousa in the summer of 1968. Pol has sung another five songs but not officially released.
This record was released in 1974, Music by Gabriel Assad, the two song are titled (1) Num Habib sung by Georgette Arslan, written by Yuhanon Dolabani (2) Forahto with, sung by Sonya Melek Aho, written by Fawlos Gabriel. produced on Flex-Liban, in Lebanon. #8146 on Izlaphone label.
I am including this LP (Long Play) record by Nineb A. Lahdo on this post because this is the only LP record released in the Western Assyrian dialect with secular songs that we know, very few LPs have been released in West dialect, another known example is by a female singer named Alice Lahdu, she released her LP in 1979 in USA but included arabic songs. The other LPs have been church records, which I might write about in the future.
1. Azzen Azzen
Lyrics & Music: Dr. Abrohom Lahdo
2. Zabne U Dore (audio included below)
Lyrics: Ninos Aho
Music: Vania David
3. Rhimto d’Leb
Lyrics: Dr. Abrohom Lahdo
Music: Joseph Malki Khuri
4. Tokhu Tokhu Habibe
Lyrics & Music: Joseph Malki Khuri
5. ‘Al I Hubo Na’imto Hat
Lyrics: Yaqub Marawgi
Music: Ninib A Lahdo
Compiled and written by Moneer Cherie
More info available in Volume one book by Abboud Zeitoune’s “Music Pearls of Beth-Nahrin” including biographies, background information and stories.
Album covers are an opportunity for singers to make a first impression. The artwork could tell the story of songs and music style in the album, but not necessary, it could just be making an important statement.
But most of our Assyrian covers lack artistic vision, and are mundane and unexciting. I would understand if a new singer uses his own photo on cover, as a gateway to introduce himself to the masses, but what I don’t understand is when after the 10th or 11th album the singer is still only using his or her profile photo on the cover, without any montage or creativity?
Other annoying covers to me are those with singers being shown playing or holding a music instrument on cover; but that instrument is never used in the actual album!
Album covers could be used as a medium to reflect the emotion and tragedies of our nation at a specific period of time in history. The Massacres, The Terrorist attacks, The occupation of Nineveh, The forced deportation, The Genocides, the burning of Churches. But it doesn’t have to be a political statement, it could make a statement about life in general, about Romance, Love, Relationship, Friendships and so on.
As the saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words”, I believe few singers have over the years tried to tell a thousand worthy words with some of their album pictures, or at least twenty words! But I guess that’s better than not trying at all. Here are my picks of such covers with statements:
Perhaps the most iconic Assyrian album cover has been this by Walter Aziz, released in 1982 as his volume (7) album. The cover depicts the immortal Assyrian General Petros Elia, colored from a black and white photo depicting him in his full military uniform and medals. General Agha Petros was the military leader of the Assyrian independent forces during World War One, fighting for the establishment of an Assyrian homeland in their ancestral land of Mesopotamia. Album was dedicated to his memory, perhaps the last king of Assyria.
This album with his iconic cover was released by Shlimon Bet Shmuel in 1983 on an LP, painted by Adell Nagi, depicting the never-ending struggle for survival, a struggle that continue to this day; the looting of our artifacts, the forced deportation and migration of our people from their ancestral homeland, the destruction of our heritage and identity. Shlimon is a remarkable composer and nationalist singer, his songs encapsulates all the worries and inspirations of his people.
The impressive image of an Assyrian winged bull adorn this LP cover, the debut album by Sargon Rasho released in 1982 designed by Edward Gabriel, while being his first album yet the singer didn’t use his own photo on cover, but opted for one majestic photo that summaries the power and glory of the Assyrian Empire, simple but effective. and sent a strong message that you don’t need to always use your own photo on cover, even if its your debut album.
Elizabeth Oshana released this LP in 1981 in US, with this pose she is paying tribute to her national identity and to her first track in her album “the awakening”, her dress is adorned with the image of the national Assyrian flag, and holding a flame, a beacon of hope. Of course such covers never arrived from the west to middle East as they were banned by the Arab national regimes, that tells you the power of an image.
LP album by William Daniel released in 1974 pressed in USA, Music composed by William Daniel, titled “Assyria Sings”, William opted to use a painting on the back, name of painter is not clear but might be Shan Toma, it depicts the spinning “yarn” wheel in the center of the image, the background shows the Gate and walls of Nineveh, and threads of fiber shooting from wheel to all directions, the “wheel” symbolizing civilization. Baby cradle representing the very first song of a mother to her child, and the unbroken lineage from the ancient to modern Assyrians, the continuity of people and their culture, dance and music has always been part of our struggle and survival.
This CD was released by the late Hannibal Alkhas, featuring Helen St. Vincent and Khosrow Soltani. This poems, Songs and instrumental album was released in 2005 and the cover was designed from the paintings of Late Hannibal Alkhas, an accomplished painter and poet. the album was titled Urmie, the cover depicts a panorama of the life of Assyrians in the Urmie region of Iran, before the Massacres and Genocides.
Mousa Elias released this CD in 2001 with national songs. The cover depicts the tragedies of SAYFO: The World War One Genocide committed by the Turkish government against the country’s Christian inhabitants. Sayfo: meaning “Sword” in Assyrian, represents Turkish army and Kurdish tribes use of the Sword during their “jihad” to butcher civilians while invading cities and villages to rape, plunder and kill unarmed Christians of the Ottoman empire, a tragedy that it will live in infamy.
Azadoota Band (Freedom): is an Assyrian international band with at least seven members, located in Sydney Australia, Robin Zirwanda is the band’s manager and singer, and he is also the son of the famed Assyrian Iraqi singer Awimalk Haider. This album was released in 2015 with a single song titled Lishana (Our language), telling the world that Jesus spoke our language. With a beautifully designed cover looking like an ancient illuminated Manuscript.
Another worthy mention is this poetry CD released by Yousip Menashi in 2006 in Sydney Australia, titled “Kela Yema”, cover was decorated with two paintings both originally painted by the Assyrian artist Edward Rassam, with some modifications to original paintings.
Helen Zaya released this CD in 1999 with a cover adorned by a painting and some graphic design, album was titled Bet Nahrein, and showing the map of our ancestral homeland Iraq “or part of Mesopotamia” in the center of the world. Painted in blood red, and one chained female holding a flame, while the other male figure is holding an Assyrian flag and has freed his hand but with sacrifices, represented in the drops of blood dripping from the chain. In my opinion such covers add value to albums, if I was in the shop and saw such a nice cover, I would be so motivated to buy it.
George Farag released this Tape in 1986 in Germany, holding Assyrian flag over the ruins of ancestral homeland with mother and child in traditional dress. Assyrian struggle to survive against savage odds in a region that has never stops persecuting his indigenous people, the Middle East the home of death and misery.
Ninos Nirary released this Poetry Tape in 1993 titled “Message – Agarta”, you can always say so much with a painting than a straightforward photo, while I didn’t have a good quality scan of this cover but I think it is still a good representation of my point in this post, covers that are utilized to send or illustrate a powerful message of what the content of the album are, but also are informing the listeners visually and emotionally of our political struggle.
PS: To keep the sounds authentic, all tracks used on this page have been recorded directly from the original first edition records, either be it Vinyl, Tapes or CDs. And have not used remastered versions.
Compiled & Written by Moneer Cherie*
The earliest Assyrian Gramophone (shellac) records in Middle East were released in Iraq, this was during the time when international record companies were working and producing records for different nationalities and in different languages. The two main companies were the British “His Master’s Voice” and The American “Columbia” Labels, later a local company (Ashtarphone) produced at least two Assyrian records that we know of, and I will be showing those two records at the end of this article.
Other domestic and regional labels gradually became involved in producing records in the Middle East, however Assyrian songs have only been found on the two international Labels mentioned above.
But political instability, and revolutions put an end to such collaborations. These political changes brought Pan-Arab nationalism and dictatorships which resulted in the persecution of minorities not only politically but culturally. Even when domestic record companies were established they never ventured to produce record for Assyrian Singers, companies like Chakmakchiphon, Neayem, Baidaphon and Philips.
None of the Middle Eastern regimes allowed Assyrians to have their own Social Media, be it Newspapers, Magazines, Radio or TV channels. And no schools to teach their language, and as a result of that, and other suppression, today most of our people don’t read and write in their own language. The only source of Media that governments tried but couldn’t totally block was Assyrian songs. Assyrian albums kept arriving one way or the other from the West to the East, and Assyrian songs kept filtering into our social life.
I will start with the first record, this record was released in Iraq in 1931 by Shamasha (deacon of the Catholic Church) Hanna Petros, (1896-1958), he released two Gramophone records (78rpm), on the British “His Master’s Voice’ Label, one was called “Baydakh d-Ature” G.D 89, and the other “Karuzuta d-Hasha” G.D 111, as you notice from the titles, the first record contained two magnificent national songs, and the second record had two Church Hymns. These two records were pressed at the plant in England UK.
Record (1) G.D 89
1-Baydakh d Ature
Record (2) G.D 111
1-Karuzutha d Hasha
Hanna Petros was not only a deacon, a singer but a composer, and the founder of music education in Iraq, which included (but not limited to) the Iraqi Army Music Department (1923), the Baghdad Music Conservatory (1936) and the Iraqi Police Music Band (1941).
The second oldest records were released by Gabriel Yosip Sayad (1914 – 1995), Gibrail was only a teenager when he was overwhelmed by the news of the 1933 Simmele Massacre of Assyrians at the hands of Iraqi military factions. Gibrail’s patriotism did not drive him to take arms against the persecutors of his people, yet his choice of weapon was more powerful. The words and songs he chose united and compelled the Assyrian Community in Iraq to survive the Iraqi regime’s merciless persecution of Gibrail’s people. He dared to raise his rich tenor voice on stage and, finally, in recordings of ten songs, Including four very patriotic songs written by famous composers: Dr. Freydoun Atouraya and Rabi Yacoub Bet Yacoub. (from his bio by Ramsina Sayad)
Gabriel released Five records on the British owned “His Master’s Voice” Label. it hasn’t been easy locating all five original records, especially that many of the copies have not survived, or are in the hands of none-Assyrian collectors. These records were pressed at Dum Dum plant in Culcatta, India and shipped to be sold in Iraq.
Record (2) N12002
1. Ya Nishra
2. Minaskh Bayen L Mookhibatee
Record (3) N12003
1. Hoi Wazo Waz
2. Mabsomila Marali
Record (4) N12004
1. Shlamoukh Al Ayni Moghibi
2. Min Dardeh Bleleh
Record (5) N12005
On this track you will hear a short sound bite from an interview with the late Gabriel Yosip Sayad, conducted in 1986 for an Assyrian radio program in Sydney, as he introduces the song “Ya Nishra” which was recorded in Iraq on this record below in 1935.
The third oldest Assyrian record from Iraq was recorded by Yonathan Yukhanna, He released only one record in 1948, and it was released on Columbia record label, Numbered GIA. 41 (c.o.f 290), and the record was pressed in England UK. No photo has been located for this singer. The two tracks on record were titled:
GIA.41 (c.o.f 290)
Oshana Youel Mirza is considered the first Assyrian popular singer and the most influential during his time, most of our legend singers were inspired and influenced by his voice and songs. Ashtarphone record company was owned and operated by the Bashir family in Baghdad, they later changed their name to Bashirphone when Jamil Bashir took over the running of the company. Bashir family are famed for their mastering of the UD in both the making and playing, both Munir and Jamil were masters of the instrument. But only Jamil was involved in recording and releasing records for various Iraqi Minorities and Arabs.
These two gramophone records were released by Oshana Youel Mirza on Ashtarphone probably in 1958 or earlier. Later Bashirphone only released Vinyl records. Both records were pressed in Pakistan and then shipped to be sold in Iraq.
Those have been the only Shellac records that we have been able to find in Iraq. But our search continues and maybe one day we will find more, it has been said that even late Biba or Albert Ruel may have at one time recorded songs on Gramophone records, but nothing has been found yet.
*As information, photos and songs collected in my archive for many years are gathered from many different sources, I would like to thank and acknowledge everyone who has helped me over the years, and for those who have given permission to use some of their information in my articles, and also for those who have refused. But one hand can’t clap.
During the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, or better known as the Shah of Iran, Assyrian music flourished in that country. He was secular, a pro-modernization and pro-secularization. He reigned from 1941 to 1979.
In this presentation I will be showcasing some of the most iconic records released during that period. This is a glimpse into the beautiful music that came out in Iran, we still don’t know what else is out there waiting to be discovered. My information are based on the actual records that I have been able to obtain either as hard copies or as digital copies. All with the help of a small network of friends including Abboud Zeitoune, and the internet.
When it came to researching early Assyrian records in general, the first hurdle we faced was, as Assyrians we don’t have a music archive, a national archive that we can tap into and utilize to learn and expand our knowledge, so we had to build our own collection from Zero, and then begun to understand what is really out there, and what has our pioneer singers and musicians produced. Recorded Assyrian music has now past the 100 years mark, but the search continuous and who knows what old records are still waiting to be discovered.
The records on this page are listed according to the years they were released in, or at least the years we think they were released in, as we have not been able to find any record-Catalogues from Iran which can help us date them more accurately.
This EP record with its original photo-sleeve was released in Iran in 1961 by Lilli Tamraz (standing in the b/w photo on the left of her Shamiram group which she managed), She was the project Manager of this EP too, and she wrote the lyrics of three songs on it, Music was Folkloric. (EP stands for Extended Play), since most records had only two songs, these EPs contained four songs. The fourth song was written & music by Edison. This EP was released on Royal Label, RT-2415, the four songs were titled 1-Go Karmane sung by Shamiran group 2-Aman Amaneh sung by Edison 3-Hury Pary sung by Shamiram group 4-Yemi sung by Edison.
This record was released by Sankhiro Khofri in Iran in 1964, originally released on Royal Label, RT-1464 (the blue), but then re-released on Foroushgah Karoun (the white on right) N#5193, two songs titled: 1-Rozana: Lyrics by Shmuel Benyamin, Music by Asarhaddon 2-Kalu: Lyrics & Music by Asarhaddon Khofri.
Valodiya Ossiboff released this record in 1965, it was released on Foroushgah Karoun label #309,(The first released could have been in USA and later re-released in Iran), it came with two Assyrian songs 1-Nineveh written by William Daniel 2-Mokhepta Diyi, it came in this Assyrian pocket Sleeve (below), with a text caption describing the Ancient Assyrian capital city of Nineveh.
Simon Issa released this single in 1965 on Monogram Label with two songs, #4141, written by Misha Ashourian and Music by Vania David 1-Yimma 2-Qessat D Prashta. No sleeve has been located for this record yet.
Narmella released her only Assyrian single in 1966, it was released on Iran Gram Label (Yellow) IG-168, then it was re-released on another Iran Gram Label but with a different design 61-IG-168 (light blue), her two Assyrian songs were 1-Shara 2-Brata Shaperta, music: Armenian. As for the photo cover, this was one of her many singles in Farsi, this one was released with the Assyrian singer Edmond Ternian (both songs were in Farsi released in 1970). No Sleeve has been located for the Assyrian single record.
First press of this record by Daruis Saatloo could have been in USA in 1966, later re-released on Royal Label RT-1272 in Iran, and it was also re-released as an EP on “Oriental” Label with AR-922 number, which is a serial number I associate with Ahang e Rooz Label. The royal record came with two Assyrian songs both Lyrics & Music by Victor Khodobakhsh; 1-Marya 2-Brated Kokheh, this single was later re-released (for the third time) in US on a Label called “Assyrian Records” in Hollywood California (not showing here).
Shamiran Issaby released this record in 1966 with two Assyrian songs 1-Taliboota Lyrics & Music by Venis 2-Palga d Leleh written by Simon Amirkhas, Music by Misha Ashourian. Shamiran Issaby is the wife of late Nebu Issabey the well know music composer and director from Iran who lived in California, his son is the famous music composer and arranger Tiqlat Issabey. The record was released on IranGram, IG-197 (yellow), then re-released on another IranGram Label with different label design, 61-IG-187, no sleeve has been located for this record, (incl. photo of singer).
This record was released by Simon Issa in 1967 with two songs titled 1-Yale W Bnateh 2-Prashta, Lyrics written by Daniel and Music by Sooren Alexander. Record was released on IranGram Label, 62-IG-836, and no Sleeve has been located for this record yet.
This record was released by Simon Issa in 1968 and it came with a beautiful Photo Sleeve, the two tracks in this record were titled 1-Brata d Turaneh 2-Iman Sahra b Gneta, both written by Misha Ashourian and Music by Vania David. it was released on Eilbera Label, MT-141.
Freidon Bet Oshana released this EP in 1971 with a Royal serial number RT-1984, which means this was probably released on Royal label, this version was sold by Foroushgah Karoun. Record came with three songs 1-Brata d Umta 2-Bakhcha D Wardeh 3-Khigga d Sheshta, All Lyrics written by Albert Iwas, music arranged by Misha Ashourian.
Robert Ibrahimi released this record in 1973 on Royal Label, RT-2689, in Iran with two Assyrian songs titled 1-Rumyateh Qineh 2-Al Ayna. Lyrics by Misha Ashourian Music by Vania David for both songs. This single came with a beautiful photo sleeve.
George Sarvanus released this record in 1973 on S.A.D Label, I don’t have any information about this Label, the record has two songs 1-Ramina 2-Youma Mitrana (Rainy day) Lyrics by Misha Ashourian and Music by Vania David for both songs. And this record came with a beautiful photo sleeve as well.
Robert Ibrahimi and Clara Nassara (later: Shino), released this record in 1974 on Ashur Gram Label, with two duet songs titled 1-Lina d Khamra Lyrics Iramia Sliwa Music by Vania David 2-Brata ta Tlubli, Lyrics by Iramia Sliwa Music by Vania David. This is the original Sleeve showing both sides.
George Maragoluf released this single in 1974 on a Label named (Stereo), N#1601, with two songs titled 1-Youmaneh Khedyeh 2-Marza d Yamatha Lyrics written by Misha Ashourian and Music by Vanida David for both tracks. Both record sides shown here. (incl. photo of singer)
Shlimon Bet Shmuel was forced by the Iraqi regime to leave Iraq, and entered Iran on the hope of immigrating to the west, and while being in Iran he released this single record in 1974 containing the immortal song of Semeleh, written by Dinkha Esha and Music by Shlimon Bet Shmuel, the song commemorate the Genocide committed by the Iraqi Army against the Assyrian civilians living in the Semeleh region of Iraq. This music project was financed by the Assyrian Iranian Federation and released on a privately produced Label. Later a 2nd version of this song was remastered and released in USA.
Simon Issa in 1975 released dual-singles in a foldout pocket-Sleeve, it was released on Royal Label, RT-2474, The four Songs were titled 1-Qasra d Matleh 2-Libba D Yimma 3-Kalo D Dashta (feat.Mariam Amirian) 4-Aywateh Metraneh. All Lyrics were written by Misha Ashourian and Music by Vania David. and came with its original photo Sleeve.
Gewargis (George) Munaphy released this record in 1977 with the participation and assistance of the Assyrian Folkloric group of Ashoor, wih their logo on record as a “Label”. Record came with two songs 1-Bidayen at Bidayet, Lyrics written by Isho, and Music by Vanid David 2-Tera D Yamateh Lyrics written by Misha Ashourian and Music by Vania David.
This Single was released with two songs one sung by Clara Nassara & Robert Ibrahimi, and the other sung by Simon Issa, the record was released in 1975 on “Stereo” label, Number 130, Clara & Robert song is titled 1-Bet Tpaqta written by Misha Ashourian and Music by Vania David. Simon Issa song is titled: Kumra, Lyrics written by Misha Ashourian and Music by Vania David.
I hope you have enjoyed this short Journey into early Assyrian records and songs from Iran, after all music is part of our culture and heritage, and it has to be collected and preserved for us, and for our future generation, hope to see you in my next presentation.
Compiled & Written by Moneer Cherie
Moneer Cherie – Moderator at Qeenatha.com
This is an introduction to Evin Agassi’s earliest known single records, starting from his Farsi records to early Assyrian records, According to the information that I gathered, Evin Agassi begun singing in Farsi as early as 1959 in his birth place, the city of Kermanshah in Iran, then in 1967 he also begun singing in his native Assyrian tongue. But he didn’t stop singing in Farsi, in fact he kept singing at the Iranian National Radio until 1975. After that he mainly sung in Assyrian. Especially after immigrating to the United States of America.
I am starting with his Farsi Records first, I am assuming those were released between the years of 1967 to 1975, This single 45″ was released on Ahang e Rooz AR-2283 with two songs, lyrics written by Gevargis Agassi, it came with a beautiful generic company sleeve, the original Sleeve (in the middle) was provided recently to me by a friend from Iran (Amir Mansour) I did some slight modification to it. Song titles are, 1-Mubaraket 2-A’kseh Beyatker:
This is another Farsi record released in Iran by Evin Agassi, on Ahang e Rooz label AR-2132 (According to the record number, this was released before the one above), both lyrics written by Givargis Agassi, 1-Kamshadeh, 2-Del Nakam.
Evin Agassi also released four tapes in Farsi, two recently in 1995 and 1996 in US, but two were released much earlier and are not very common, these are their covers, I believe the one on the left was released in 1981, and I think the one on the right is earlier and the songs are most probably a compilation of Evin’s Farsi songs sung in Iranian National Radio. The sample track below is from the tape on the right:
These are the two Tapes released in 1995 and 1996 in Farsi for Taraneh Enterprise inc. USA
His first Assyrian record, was this single 45″ Vinyl, first released on AshurMusic label in Iran in 1967 (as far as we know). And it had two tracks, first track is titled: Awara (shown in photo below), and the other side is a track titled: Kalo Khitna (Perhaps the first Kalo Khitna song released on a record). It was later released on (Foroushgah Lohan – on right).
His second Assyrian record was released in Iran in 1968 also on AshurMusic label, but this came with a picture-sleeve (as shown below), the two songs were both written by Zacharia George, however later Evin mentioned that in fact they were written by his brother Givargis Agassi, but for security reasons he used his uncle’s name on the record, as his uncle was already living abroad 1-Bet Yalda 2-Barakhta.
His third Assyrian record was released in 1968 in Iran on AshurMusic label, it came with a picture-sleeve (as shown below), and two songs titled 1-Nokhraya (Yimma) 2-Toukhronya (Gameechi) both lyrics written by Zacharia George (but probably written by Givargis Agassi (as above).
His Fourth Assyrian record was released in 1970 in Iran on AshurMusic label, with two songs written by Zacharia George (but probably written by Givargis Agassi), we are not sure if this originally came with a picture sleeve, but we have not been able to find one so far. The two songs on this record are 1-Bakhelota (Aywateh) 2-Taliboota (Mamir)
His Fifth Assyrian record was released in 1970 in Iran on Foroushgah Omid (Omyd or Hope Store), both songs were written by Zacharia Gewargis, music by Vania David. 1-Taliboota 2-Chyroota o Prashta.
The pocket Sleeve doesn’t come with this record, this is a general sleeve from Foroushgah Karoun label from Iran.
Another beautiful Assyrian single was released much, much later in his career, this record was released in 1984 in USA with two songs, both written by Givargis Agassi, one to commemorate the Assyrian Massacre of 1933 in the Semele region perpetrated by the Iraqi Army, and the second track was a national song titled Beth Nahrain. The record came with an original sleeve (as shown below).
|1968||BET-YALDA (ZEEGA D’OMRA)|
|1968||BARAKHTA D’EDA (EDA BREEKHA)|
|ALL AS||1969||NOOKHRAYA (YIMMA) (QARIBOOTA)|
|VOL 1||1969||TOUKHROONYA (GAMEECHI)|
|1970||CHYOORA O’PRASHTA (TALAKH SOGUL) (KHASH’SHA KHADOOTA)|
Compiled and Written by
Moneer Cherie – Moderator at Qeenatha.com
I wrote this article in Arabic which was published on Ankawa.com but I also wrote it in English for the non-Arabic readers (below):
Next year Modern Assyrian music will celebrate the 100 years of its birth.A century of Assyrian music, a journey that included the good and the ugly, and not having our own country has not helped in establishing and developing great musical heritage.
When the ottoman Turks massacred our people during world war one, we lost many great early singers and musicians, singers like Suryani Jerji who was killed around 1920 by the Turks, and traditional singers of Raweh and Diwaneh who were killed in Hakkari and during other massacres. If such people had survived we would have probably developed better authentic Assyrian music.
Also many of our early singers never recorded their music for different reasons from not being commercially viable to big recording companies working at that time in the Middle East and recording in languages such as Arabic, Turkish and Kurdish, to silly reasons as “the evil recorder will eat my voice” Based on a confirmed family story.
Why next year? It all began when researching for materials related to Assyrian music, an old advertisement was found on a page in an Assyrian magazine titled “New Assyria” published in USA, the ad read “we sale Assyrian records ask for our catalogue” the magazine was dated 1917 the ad was found by Abboud Zeitoune from Germany and author of two discography music books.
Until then we never knew that we had Assyrian records released in 1917 but even with the help of the internet our search for more information went nowhere for a while, then after more than a year a person in US listed few records on an auction website titled “Assyrian Records”, the title was interesting so I contacted him and asked about them? He said he only bought them because they had nice graphics on the label “Assyrian winged bull with Assyrian star” they were three records; he bought them from a flea market while traveling in Massachusetts.
That made me excited, and thought these must be those old Assyrian records we have been searching for. I had to buy them, so I made him an offer and he accepted and sooner they arrived in a parcel. He already told me that two of the three are not in a very good shape; I didn’t care if they came in pieces as long as we could confirm the existing of such early rare records. However they were still playable and I managed to digitize them all three and preserve the originals for the future.
Now I own three copies dated to 1917 making them the oldest known modern Assyrian records, and they are numbered as No2, No3, and No4 so we know No1 is missing, and we don’t know if there are more numbers? This discovery pushed back the date from 1929 as the oldest known record to 1917 and the search continues.
The records are 78 rpm Shellac, each record has two songs, they are sung by a couple originally from Iran, Joseph and Anna Younan, released in USA. The music is probably Azeri from an opera released much earlier, the lyrics are in modern Assyrian dialect and we are not sure if they are translation from Azeri or original lyrics.
Assyrian music has played an important role in preserving part of our language and heritage, not many of our people then or now are able to read and write in Assyrian but almost all of us listen to our music that tells the stories and epics from our culture and history and we learn from it about our glory and tragedies of our people.
Music has become the most widespread medium within our people.
We thank the many singers and musicians who have done and are doing great job in producing great Assyrian music and no thanks for those singers who are doing such a bad job.
100 years have passed; will our music or even our language survive another 100 years? I think if there is no political change or stability in Middle East, then maybe it will only survive in a Museum.
Moderator at www.Qeenatha.com