Liraz Charhi, 42, an Israeli singer of Persian heritage, will soon be publishing her new album which was created in secret while working with Iranian musicians, The Guardian reported.
The bitter animosity between Israel and Iran led Charhi and her colleagues from Iran to communicate through encrypted instant-messaging apps like Telegram and by wiring money through third countries, such as the UK and Turkey. This caused Charhi great distress, as she feared what would happen to those helping her if discovered.
“Technically, it was very difficult” Charhi said. “But emotionally, it was much more difficult. I felt night after night that I was doing a bad thing and these people could be arrested.”
Charhi began by contacting notable Iranian artists online. While Charhi says many were excited to collaborate, some asked to remain anonymous, with others expressing interest but later disappearing and changing their social media accounts.
Charhi's connection to Iran and Iranian culture has deep roots. Her parents migrated to Israel about a decade before the Islamic Revolution of 1979 took Iran by a storm and led to the gradual yet constant deterioration in relations between Israel and Iran, which soon became nonexistent.
Growing up speaking Hebrew in school and Farsi at home, Charhi struggled to create her own Israeli identity.
“My parents ... struggled to be Israeli while they put their roots behind them. They kept acting Iranian,” she said. “For me, it put a big hole in my heart – a big question mark. Who am I? Where did I come from?”
It was only once she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her acting dreams that she learned from the huge American-Iranian community about Iranian culture from the 1970s.
“I recognized something different in the women singers' voices. Full of courage, much more feisty,” Charhi noted.
Since then, Charhi has pursued an impressive acting and singing career, heavily influenced by her interest in Iran.
You may recognize her from her latest role as a Mossad spy in the latest Israeli TV hit, Tehran, which examines the tense relations between the countries, while breaking many stereotypes about Iran in the process.
“I don’t agree with anything that comes with seeing Iran as our enemy, because I don’t live like that. I do the opposite,” Charhi said, and the opposite she did indeed.
Now, Charhi hopes to publish her second album recorded entirely in Farsi, titled "Zan" (which translates as "women"). Filled with electronic dance tracks that revive and remix a 1970s era Iranian pop scene, the album is a rare example of unity between Israelis and Iranians, despite regional politics that would otherwise prevent such collaborations from taking place.
Her first album, titled "Naz," became somewhat of a hit in Iran, with Charhi seeing videos on social media of Iranian women singing along to her songs, many of which play with the Farsi expression for “being polite, being a good girl.”
One Iranian composer who wrote some of the lyrics and sang in some of Charhi's new tracks, said he was amazed when he first discovered her. “It shocked me, a girl from Israel with Persian roots … a lot of emotions, energy from her voice and eyes,” said Raman Loveworld, asking to use only his artistic name.
“I know it is dangerous to work on this project,” he said. “But we are just normal people.”
Charhi said that she hopes her new album will have an ever bigger impact then her first one, but expressed gratitude for simply having the opportunity to work with Iranian musicians.
“My biggest dream was to write Iranian music with Iranians,” she reminisced.“Mission accomplished.”