Why Music Matters: Iranian actor Aria Saadi ‒ Forbidden Music

In Iran, you can’t drink alcohol, play Western music, or party with the opposite gender. One day when Aria was a teenager, he almost got caught by the Revolutionary Guards for all three. Here’s how he escaped.


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Later, Aria wasn’t so lucky and was arrested for taking part in a Bahai religious event and for having a girlfriend. He and his girlfriend were sentenced to 75 lashings. After that, Aria eventually emigrated to Canada, where he currently acts and plays music with the band Persia.

Persia sings about their homeland:

Aria says he might have been playing this song, “Sheytoon Bala,” by Andy and Kouros on the night he had to flee:

No One Knows About Persian Cats, a film about the underground music scene in Iran, was released in the U.S. last year.

Bahais in Iran, like Aria’s family, face intense discrimination by the government. Learn more here.

Music used in this piece: “Sheytoon Bala” by Andy and Kouros, “Torkaman” by Masters of Persian Music, and “Sarzamin man” by Persia

Quick! Check out the other stories in the Why Music Matters series!

Produced by Anna Boiko-Weyrauch, AIR’s Live Interactive Resident for Fall 2010. Editorial oversight by Kevin Cole. Engineering help from Matt Ogaz. Live Interactive is a collaboration of KEXP and AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio with financial support from AIR members worldwide, Recovery.gov, and the National Endowment for the Arts which believe a great nation deserves great art.

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One Comment

  1. luiz paulo
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    do not forget the band that also yellowdogs and Iran

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