Admired by more than 100 million people, he has recorded over 270 songs, has released 30 Albums and performed in 23 countries. From Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany to Royal Albert Hall in England, MGM in Vegas, Kodak Theater and Cabaret Tehran in California. He is the favorite of The Persian Royal Family and Persian's most idolized vocalist artist of our contemporary time. His name is SATTAR.
His fame began at the age of 22 with the release of the theme song "Khaneh Bedoosh" which literally means ‘Homeless’ for "Morad Barghi", a popular television show in Persia. The show made him an instant star. Young, talented, and handsome, he soon became an Icon all over the Middle East. In 1978, Sattar migrated to the United States and continued his singing career in Los Angeles, California. In 1980, he got married and eventually became a father. His career blossomed further through the years, leading him on tours all over the world.
ANNICK: Thank you so much for taking the time to be speaking with me today. I am not sure how to call you. Is SATTAR your Artist name or first name?
SATTAR: My pleasure. Sattar is my father’s forename, which I chose as my artistic name so that I treat it with utmost respect and never take my social image, artistic responsibility or fame lightly or for granted.
ANNICK: Would you describe yourself as a Pop Star Tenor Vocal Artist?
SATTAR: For the past 40 years I have been blessed with being active in performing and recording both Pop and Classic / Traditional music. I am thankful for being able to satisfy different tastes in both Persian Pop and Classic music and for being a diverse singer for my audience.
ANNICK: When you were 22 years old, a popular television show made you an instant Pop Star in Iran. Can you tell us more about it? What made it so popular?
SATTAR: “Morad Barghi” was a comedy–drama TV series back in the early 70s. Parviz Kardan, the producer and leading star of the show played the role of a naive homeless electrician living out of his vehicle, who fell in love with the youngest daughter of a family with 7 girls.
Kardan was looking for a new singer and a new theme song for his upcoming show. Coincidentally, I was in a recording studio when he turned up and people there introduced me to him and he liked my voice. Right there and then we made the theme song “Khaneh Bedoosh/(Homeless)” and on the following night he put it on his next episode. Calls kept pouring to the national TV requesting a replay and how people could get hold of that song. I can say the reason for its success and popularity was that the show was well written and well directed and it was projecting the realities. It was portraying the purity of love regardless of wealth or social status. It was a truly original work from every aspect.
ANNICK: You became very successful as a young man. What was it like then in Iranian society? I mean, how different was it then to be so successful and an icon of Iranian society because those days were pretty rough, weren't they?
SATTAR: Of course becoming successful and famous at the age of 22 was nice but as I mentioned earlier, I never let fame and popularity overtake me. I strongly believe in the essence of human values and modesty. As for the second part of your question, before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran was a modern, developing, and a very rich country by all means. As you know, we have well over 6000 years of heritage and a 2500-year-old culture, which is part of the fabric of every society on this planet.
Before the revolution, arts and artists had unique values. Our music was becoming influential and we were often invited to perform at international stages. Our country was hosting international festivals with artists and musicians from all over the world. But, regretfully, this Islamic Republic has driven the country centuries back and our young generations inside the country are suppressed.
Pop music is heavily controlled by the Islamic Government and our original Traditional or ‘Dastgahi’ music has been changed by certain so-called Masters to meet the requirements of the regime. Still we have a couple of real Maestros in Persian Classic / Traditional music inside Iran but sadly they are aging and not permitted to perform as they should.
ANNICK: You became famous during the time of the Shah. How was it back then growing as a young musician in Iran?
SATTAR: Artists of all sorts were treated with honor and dignity and Shahbanou Farah Pahlavi, the Empress of Iran, had a major leading role with that. There were some rules and regulations benefiting the quality of music and music productions, which were to be broadcast by the national radio and TV but in general we were permitted to present our modern and progressive work.
ANNICK: Were most musicians supported by the government or did you have some financial support by the royal family? In other words, were Music and the Arts praised back then?
SATTAR: Arts including performing arts and music were supported nation-wide by the government. But we had our private recording labels then as we do now. I personally received no specific financial support from the royal family. And yes, arts were praised and we had festivals and awarding ceremonies especially for the movie industry.
ANNICK: In those days, were you an independent musician or were you hired by the Royal family?
SATTAR: I was an independent vocalist who had the honor of often being invited to perform before the royal family and at state events. Moreover, on several occasions I was privileged to be the ambassador of our music in foreign countries and perform before foreign heads of states and dignitaries.
ANNICK: Your career was going well and success was grand, then came the strong Shi'ite opposition against the Shah, lead by Ayatollah Khomeini, who lived in exile in Iraq and later in France. In the States we did not like the revolution and I remember when we all had to get in the line at the gas station due to a gasoline shortage. Most gas stations
SATTAR: It wasn’t just Khomeini or Shi'ite opposition! This was carefully orchestrated in lieu of a new geo-political and economical decision at the time, and Khomeini was simply their element. And of course in these sorts of games the public will always pay the price and get the burdens. I am sure you, the United States and the whole world can see now how those events of post 1979 had its turn and today that region is in an appalling situation.
ANNICK: Yes, it was very sad to see what happened to beautiful Persia and for all of us to watch Iranians lose their freedom. Many Persians had no choice but to flee the country in order to live well and at peace but I am sure, it was painful. When did you decide to leave Iran and how difficult was it for you to make this decision to leave? As an Artist, you probably did not have much choice but to abandon everything behind you and pray for the best. Tell us more about how you felt, in those days. Thank you.
SATTAR: I had my overseas Europe and US tours and I came to the US for a two-week concert in New York and Los Angeles when the unrest started and eventually the revolution happened and we never could return back and now it is exactly 32 years that I am here. Yes, It was very difficult, especially because I had to take care of my band too. I often say this: When I recorded my first ever song, “Homeless” for that TV show, I never thought that it would one day apply in my life too. It was a new beginning and here I had to start again and build up a new life.
ANNICK: We hear that everything happens for a reason. Do you think that everything worked out for the better in your life or do you miss your native country. I am sure, no?
SATTAR: Yes, I do. I believe everything happens for a reason. There are things that are out of our control but one should have good faith and stay positive.
ANNICK: Do you have any regrets and would you ever want to return back to Iran and live there?
SATTAR: As Frank Sinatra says: “A few, but yet too few to mention”. I would love to go back but not until democracy is restored and Islamic Republic is gone. I hope any day soon, the world community will take our people’s side and support our people to free themselves from this theocratic and undemocratic government.
ANNICK: Do you have all your family with you when you left Iran behind you? Are they musicians, too or are you the only talented person in your family?
SATTAR: My father passed away in 2007 in Iran but I couldn’t be there for his funeral for obvious reasons. We arranged one memorial over here in LA and one in New York. My mother is in Iran. I live with my wife in LA and my daughter ‘Sheena’, who just received her Master’s in Psychology and is working in San Francisco. No, my family are not musicians but are in support of that.
ANNICK: That's wonderful that you are all together enjoying the freedom to be. There is a lot of Persian music that is wonderful. What were your greatest hits in Iran? Were you as successful there as you are in the USA?
SATTAR: My signature song is ‘Hamsafar’, literally meaning ‘Travel Mate’ and I had many hit songs back then including ‘Gole Sangam’, which was recorded as a cover song by several other non-Iranian singers. As for the US and overseas, within the Persian community, which consists of 6-7 million people in Diaspora, yes and I believe I could maintain my career pretty dynamically.
ANNICK: Persian music is one of my favorite music. I really enjoy listening to your singing. Your voice is very pure. Any hit songs in this country?
SATTAR: During the past 30 years in the US, I had approximately 40 hits. Since I sing in Persian, the majority of my fans are Persians and Farsi speakers of other countries. I often receive fan letters and emails from India to south East Asia, from the Middle East to North America and Canada. I am truly delighted that I can meet with my fans in cultural venues and concert halls.
ANNICK: I have noticed that you sing a lot with Mahasty who is also a very famous Persian singer. Did you meet her in the States?
SATTAR: Mahasty and I knew each other back in Iran and shared many stages. And in the US we had many duets and several joint records.
ANNICK: It's wonderful. What is your greatest source of inspiration and who do you enjoy listening to?
SATTAR: I usually get my inspiration from people and the world affairs around me. I enjoy listening to: Lionel Richie, Julio Iglesias and Andrea Bocelli.
ANNICK: From your concert tours and announced dates, one can guess how pretty engaged you are, do you also allocate time and have interest in performing at festivals and charitable events?
SATTAR: My performing calendar year usually reads a balance of 60/40, i.e. 60% of my performances take place overseas and 40% within the US. I often attend international cultural events. Provided that my prior commitments permit, whenever I receive an invitation to a festival, which is professionally managed or to a charitable event, which is close to my heart, I gladly accept.
ANNICK: Standing up with your friends and supporting them with your presence in the rallies is wonderful. Do you trust that most Musicians were able to leave Iran?
SATTAR: Mostly did but some didn’t want to leave and eventually became almost inactive.
ANNICK: That is too bad because everyone loves Persian music. Do you have any project of your own that you are working on and wish to share with us?
SATTAR: My new Album with 8 songs is on its way.
ANNICK: I seem to always go back to Iran because Persia was a global hub of culture, art and religion in the world, Persia was admired by everyone and again who doesn't love to dance to the sound of Persian music. Will Iran be free, again?
SATTAR: Over 65% of Iran’s population of 70 million is under 30 years of age. I am hopeful for the future of Iran, as I am sure this generation will get their country back.
ANNICK: Yes, I think that you are right. We say what goes up goes down and vice versa. There is hope for a better world to come. Would you like to share a message of courage and hope with our readers?
SATTAR: A courageous person dies once, a coward dies every minute. Sometimes the most courageous thing is to have tolerance and listen and sometimes to stand tall and speak up. Love yourself, value and enjoy your being, because hope and fortune attract those who value themselves.
ANNICK: Thank you for sharing such a lovely message. Is there any language that you prefer singing in? IsFarsi your preferred language?
SATTAR: So far my songs have all been in Farsi, but I can sing in English too. Here I am happy to announce that I am now examining the possibilities of recording a few songs in English.
ANNICK: That's wonderful to hear. Sattar, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. The friends at Treasures of Wonderment wish you and your family all the best.
SATTAR: Thanks for having me.