In memory of Aram Tigran… you will be missed

article081.jpgKurdish Herald Vol. 1 Issue 4, August 2009 – by Jeff Allan and Mehmet Fidan

It was with great sadness that we heard the news of the passing of Aram Tigran, one of the most gifted contemporary Kurdish singers and musicians. Mr. Tigran, age 75, died on August 8, 2009 in Evangelismos General Hospital in Athens, Greece. His life story is indeed the story of a refugee and was dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the Kurdish identity and, more specifically, culture and language.

Mr. Tigran was an ethnic Armenian and son of an Armenian Genocide survivor and native of Diyarbakir. He was born in Qamishlo, a predominantly Kurdish city in Syria, in 1934, and showed a great love and gift for music by the age of 9. By the age of 20, he was singing in Kurdish, Arabic, and Armenian. In 1966, he moved to Yerevan, Armenia, and worked for Yerevan Radio for 18 years. In 1995, he moved to Athens, Greece. During his 53 years music career, he composed hundreds of songs, including 230 Kurdish songs (in various dialects) and many in Arabic, Armenian, Turkish , Syriac, and Greek, and released has twelve albums. He was loved and respected by millions of Kurds and many of Kurdistan’s most well known artists, and he took a keen interest in helping young, promising musicians.

The late Armenian singer, Aram Tigran – Photo Courtesy Jeff Allan © Kurdish Herald 2009

Such was his influence on Kurdish music that, in 2005, a number of artists collaborated to produce an album dedicated to Mr. Tigran entitled Evina Aram (Love for Aram), in which they recorded their own versions of many of his most popular songs. Among the artists participating in this project were Gulistan, Rotinda, Xelil Xemgin, Xero Abbas and Diyar.

After obtaining Greek citizenship two years ago, he visited his ancestral homeland, seeing his parents’ home city for the first time and later performing in both the Kurdish region for an audience of tens of thousands and later in Istanbul at a DTP-sponsored event. This year, he took part in Diyarbakir’s 9th Culture and Arts Festival, but because of ill health, he was only able perform three Kurdish songs. He was the final performer at this year’s Newroz celebration in Diyarbakir, where he sang in Kurdish and Turkish.

Rather than close this humble eulogy with our own additional words of tribute, we believe it is more fitting to end it with those of Mr. Tigran from a verse that he wrote after seeing Diyarbakir for the first time:

Di xewnên sevan de min bawer nedikir
Bi çavan bibînim bajarê Diyarbekir
Rojbas Diyarbekir me pir bêriya te kir
Te derî li me vekir
Te me sa kir

If I had dreamed it, I would not have believed it
Being able to see the city of Diyarbakir with my own eyes
Good day Diyarbakir, I missed you very much
You opened your gates to us
You made us very happy

Jeff Allan is co-founder of Kurdish Herald and a member of the editorial board. Mehmet Fidan holds a masters degree in Political Science from Brooklyn College and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department of the City University of New York. His primary focus is the Kurdish Question in Turkey. He was previously a history teacher at Istanbul University for 7 years.