The future of singing, music and freedom in Iraq is in the Kurdistan Region, says Ilham al-Madfei06/08/2012 12:11
CAIRO, Aug. 5 (AKnews) - Iraqi artist and musician Ilham
al-Madfei said that he had decided to transfer his work and residence from
Jordan to the Kurdistan Region after staying away from home for 33 years.
In an interview with AKnews in Cairo on the sidelines of his Ramadan ceremony for the Iraqi community he expressing his belief that the future of singing, music, and freedom lies in the Kurdistan Region and that he will return to his Kurdish roots with pride.
You decided to return to the Kurdistan Region. What are the reasons behind that?
I have spent a long period of my life outside my country and there must be stability after moving between the countries of the world, carrying my guitar and singing the traditional Iraqi song. I choose the Kurdistan Region to settle in and transfer all my work where I am of Kurdish origins and I'm proud of my identity. I love Kurdistan, which is the land of dreams for me and we used to visit it every year when I was younger to watch the beautiful scenery and beautiful nature in Salahaddin, Shaqlawah, Sarsank and others.
How do you write your lyrics when you do not live at home?
Poetry is my problem. I live in Jordan and do not have Iraqi poets - they are all in Iraq. And when I purchase a book for an Iraqi poet and compose a poem from this book I feel that the poem is not smooth where the composer must live with the poet. I've issued seven new albums and composed them with the greatest musicians in the world (such as Electra spiritual symphony), but all of them came out rough. I will work during my return to Iraq to choose the poets myself and live with them to come out with something spiritual.
How would you evaluate the level of professionalism of Iraqi songs? Is it really declining?
I wonder which is more famous these days. Is it the "Burtuqala" (Orange) song for example or the old Iraqi known song "Foq al-Nakhel" (Above the Palm Trees)? I believe that the first song is the most famous but we call it "declining" although it has an audience. We cannot say that the new Iraqi songs are "falling" where each art has its taste and perhaps what we are calling declining songs will be a heritage in the coming period.
In Lebanon, for example, most listeners prefer the song "Qalb Qalb wen wen" (O' Heart Where Are You) and listen to it in all the world. And there is a new wave of singing but don't call it declining like us so we have to evaluate and support the Iraqi art morally, intellectually and culturally, on this basis.
How do you see the future of Iraq's new artistic generation?
The new generation is continuous and present. I was in Paris ten days ago and visited a museum of modern art and found a group of Iraqi artists working hard and actively. This means that the Iraqi artist imposes himself everywhere as he is in Iraq. I am proud of Iraq and its poets, writers and artists of all levels. Iraq produces everything beautiful despite the difficult circumstances.
It is important to work in our country or anywhere in the world and live together and compose and sing and do everything together, and the true artist is the one who criticizes the other without hurting him but helps him. When I started to update the Iraqi traditional song everyone stood against me and they accused me of distorting the heritage and I suffered so much to the extent of preventing me from traveling. I hope the great artists take into account the new talents even those that they do not agree with.
What is your future project in the Kurdistan Region?
I aspire to establish a musical company in the region after I get the stay there because I carry the Jordanian passport only and do not have an Iraqi passport. I am trying to return my nationality and identity in the Kurdistan Region and I hope to hold a grand ceremony with the artist Omar Dazzei after the end of the holy month of Ramadan. I'll implement many other important artistic works after settling down.
Do you intend to visit Baghdad?
I hope so. If I was invited I would go immediately because I have an audience there. Despite the long absence and despite the difference between generations I feel the interaction of the audience with me, and I've witnessed this in Cairo and the traditional song moved from one generation to generation and I'm developing and enriching it. The traditional song expresses the situation of the society and doesn't vanish. We have to revive it constantly in order to satisfy all generations.
What about "Mawtini" (My Home) song?
It is the biggest honor and pride to me and my country, Iraq. I had suggested it to be the national anthem and sang it in a television program in Lebanon and then recorded it and became the national anthem of Iraq, and when I visited Kurdistan I sang part of it in Kurdish.
Ilham al-Madfaei is an Iraqi singer and guitarist who combines the western guitar and Iraqi traditional songs. He studied in the 19050s in Najib Pasha primary school in Adhamiya and was an amateur of music and special among the other students. He is a member of the famous Madfaei family in Baghdad and started playing guitar when he was 12. He was one of the first to establish a musical group in Iraq known as Hurricanes (AAsir).
He moved to England to study engineering and he worked there with an orchestra in the Baghdadi home in London and returned to Baghdad in 1967. He formed his band then he left Iraq in 1979 and toured the world with his musical style. He returned to Iraq in 1991 where he founded his own band which holds his name (Ilham) Inspiration.
He left Iraq in 1994. His songs became famous among millions of Iraqis in exile, as well as millions of Arabs, especially in Lebanon and Jordan, and after the success of his album "Guitar" he produced. He decided to return from the United States and live in Amman, near his fans, after receiving Jordanian citizenship.
By Sara Ali