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'Someday' Is Now for Singer Nazanin


Okay, from TV to music now, and a new CD.

Nazanin Afshin-Jam fled Iran with her parents during the Ayatollah's revolution. Today, her first CD is out. It's called "Someday." Music critic Derek Rath sat down with Nazanin and found she is an extraordinarily accomplished young woman.

(Soundbite of song, "I Dance For You")

Ms. NAZANIN AFSHIN-JAM (Singer): (Singing) I dance with you, I move with you, it's in your eyes, your breath upon my lips...

DEREK RATH: Listening to this dance track from Nazanin's album "Someday" gives only a partial glimpse of a woman with an unusual career history. That career has taken Nazanin from beauty queen to human rights advocate. It would appear to be an unlikely move, but for Nazanin, it was a logical transition.

Ms. AFSHIN-JAM: My music is a representation of me. And yeah, it really is my life story.

(Soundbite of song, "Someday" (The Revolution Song))

Ms. AFSHIN-JAM: (Singing) When the soldiers came, we were on the run...

I studied Political Science and International Relations in university and went on to work with the Red Cross. So I was covering topics such as the humanitarian crisis of landmines to the poverty-disease cycle, and I felt like I needed to make a stronger impact. And it seemed like a natural fit to, you know, enter something like the Miss World competition because that would give me a platform to speak on these things.

RATH: That move was a life-changing event for Nazanin and a lifesaver for others. In Iran, a 17-year-old girl, Nazanin Fatehi, had been sentenced to death for stabbing one of three men attempting to rape her and her 15-year-old niece. Nazanin took up the girl's cause.

Ms. AFSHIN-JAM: So basically, I started a campaign, a petition which had over 350,000 signatures and lobbied different international bodies such as the United Nations, the European Union, Canadian parliament, to put pressure on the Iranian officials not to execute anyone under the age of 18.

RATH: The Iranian government ultimately bowed under that pressure, and...

Ms. NAZANIN: The case was regarded as a case of self-defense, and she was freed from jail.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. NAZANIN: (Singing) Someday we will find a way, someday...

(Speaking) I had one song in the album called "Someday: The Revolution Song." It all comes back to this idea of hope, that in the future this darkness will fade away and it'll give light to a new regeneration.

RATH: The title song, "Someday," is a statement for a mission she feels she has only just begun.

Ms. NAZANIN: Right now I've started the Stop Child Executions Campaign so that we can end executions of minors altogether in Iran, so that we don't have to save one life at a time. I'm hoping that that will encourage again others that something can be done. So it's really about teaching a lesson, almost like let's get together, people. We can do this.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. NAZANIN: I have a new solution. It's called progressive revolution...

RATH: Nazanin still has a strong affinity for Iran despite the fundamentalist oppression that forced her family to flee. The classically inclined "Goleh Sang" is a traditional love song.

(Soundbite of song, "Goleh Sang")

Ms. NAZANIN: (Singing in foreign language)

Ms. NAZANIN: Goleh Sang translates to flower of stone, which really translates to heart of stone. So it's about the pains of love, but when I'm singing it, I'm really thinking back to my homeland country of Iran and having had to leave that country and perhaps never being able to return. That for me is really sad. That's a loss, and that's a love song between me and my country.

(Soundbite of song, "Goleh Sang")

Ms. NAZANIN: (Singing in foreign language)

RATH: Nazanin's album also contains a fair share of straight-ahead pop-ish love songs, which are only heard illegally in Iran, but the album is testament to the power of pop culture worldwide to effect change. For NPR News, this is Derek Rath.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. NAZANIN: (Singing in foreign language).

CHADWICK: Nazanin's album "Someday" is in stores today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.