Helen Talia / Chicago
ClichÃ©d choruses about Kamareh, and Pousheyeh are sounding a little bit redundant these days. Songwriters should pick a new topic to write about, and I say this with all sincerity. As for singers flooding their albums with folklore from protÃ©gÃ© topics, look around, there is beauty everywhere in Assyria. Even the most interesting song is passÃ© in concept. Just how many songs do we need about generational pride? Well, whatever that number is, apparently songwriters think it just isnâ€™t enough.
Catering to the “icon” wannabe movement isnâ€™t the way to go either. It’s not hard to imagine what a “souvenir song” could be talking about in an albumâ€¦ “shoohara parsoupaya.” What’s even worse is that songwriters seem to think this philosophy represents their generation.
It’s not clear whether such musical productions reflect a singer trying too hard, or a writer having tremendous influence over a singer. Is it just being lazy, or plain crazy? Either way, the music can be summed up as simply mediocre.
In the continued envelopment of the unity among the Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Syriacs, illustrating the traditions of other Assyrian regions in a song could stand a chance. Perhaps even the harmony that is craved for in our church should be addressed in the Assyrian song, instead of throwing a blanket over it, taking sides, and shunning each other. The fact is our song has reached a plateau. It is merely floating atop still waters.
Songs, lyrics, and music are some of the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. They should reflect not only the artistâ€™s style, but the current state of our existence as a people. The Assyrian nation is facing extinction in Iraq, and our song must personify the crisis that beholds us in Iraq ~ kidnap, rape, assassination, exodus. Eventually, this crisis may very well tip over into other neighboring Middle Eastern countries that historically share Assyrian land, i.e. Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iran.
In the last month or so, I have traveled through cyberspace of some fifty artist websites, blogs and myspaces. Not a single one addresses the existing circumstances of the very nation that they sing about. Who are we kidding? No one lives in a bubble world. Last weekâ€™s demonstrations in Ankawa, Kremles, Baghdeda, and Bartilla, following the kidnap and killing of Archbishop Rahho were a cry for help. This was not an isolated incident, but the reality of our present. Why do we keep missing the mark? Martyrdom is never in vain; for even in death we should be birthing opportunities. How we act today will shape the future of our nation. We must be careful in how we choose to write our history.
Look around, artists like Sting (previously with the group “The Police”), or Ireland U-2’s frontman Bono, the twice nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize for his activism in third world countries. Lebanese Fairuz and Majida El Roumi have stared death in the face and called it what it is… death. They have chanted to Lebanonâ€™s glory, calling to an end to civil war and a union between the Christians and Muslims, even when Beirutâ€™s streets were quenching blood. These artists have inspired governments and shaped history.
Having the ability to reach mass audience, an artist can represent his nation, demand changes in politics, restore peace, end famine, educate her generation, and bring balance to an unstable country.
The challenge is how closely aligned is our song with the predicament that our nation finds itself in? Being that a song is the fastest transit between a subject matter and the audience, more and more songs should reflect the ideologies of our nation. The time is ripe to call on our musicians to use their talents with due diligence, and to give back to the community, instead of viewing their careers as simply cash cows. Here is your chance to step up to the plate to save the Assyrian song and embellish history.
Helen Talia / Chicago