FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MITRA SUMARA’S NEW ALBUM “DREAM” TELLS A STORY OF RESILIENCE AND HOPE
New York, NY – Mitra Sumara, a ground breaking project most known for reshaping retro Persian hits that harken to a bygone era of freedom and progress in Iran, is thrilled to announce the upcoming release of a highly anticipated album, “Dream.” This remarkable collection of songs takes listeners on an emotional journey, encapsulating a profound and inspiring story of resilience, creativity, connection and a longing for change. “Dream” is out now and available everywhere you stream music, save it here: https://mitrasumara.lnk.to/dream
“Dream” is a deeply personal journey for Yvette Massoudi, bandleader, singer, producer, and arranger for Mitra Sumara. It started in 2019 when Yvette was approached by a label with the dream offer to record the second Mitra Sumara album, however, her mother’s terminal illness made it challenging to accomplish. As the pandemic unfolded in 2020 the label deal fell through leaving Yvette crushed. With the loss of her mom, the record deal, and the stress of the pandemic, she spent time focusing more on home and family. Although she tried to connect with audiences online she recalls, “I played live for an online festival that crashed my computer. I had little enthusiasm to tape a live set and replay later. I discovered that I needed the energy of an audience to share the excitement of a show and I couldn’t continue online.”
Artistically a turning point came when she applied for and received a competitive grant from The NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theater by the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in association with The New York Foundation for the Arts; which has made the album possible. But tragedy struck once more with the loss of Massoudi’s friend and collaborator the brilliant percussionist Michael Evans, she reflects, “I found it difficult to think about performing or recording again. We had worked together on several projects for nearly 20 years. I decided to change up the size of the band, and I wanted to produce a more intimate sound, as well.”
During the pandemic, the Persian community also lost a pioneer in pop music, Ramesh, a solo female pop star from the Golden Age of PersianPop music. An iconic figure in Iranian music and a favorite of Yvette who comments, “I was inspired to record songs originally performed by Ramesh. I wanted to honor her after her death and now, because she gave up singing professionally in protest of the Islamic Regime’s ban on women singing in public.”
She continues, “Ramesh (born Azar Mohebbi-Tehrani) was a classically trained Persian and Azeri music singer. She became a successful pop singer in the late 60s/early 70s. Her voice uniquely embodies Western and Middle Eastern music. It was rumored that she was lesbian which had no negative impact on her success in Iran. Like many Iranian artists, she fled the country after the 1979 Revolution. At first, she migrated to Europe and then on to Los Angeles. Yet unlike other Iranian pop stars, she ended her singing career in 1995 in protest of the Islamic Regime’s laws against women’s rights to sing. To this day the regime still prohibits women from singing as soloists in public. She died during the pandemic in 2020. As a tribute to her work I wanted to include more of her songs on my new record.”
Dream is a collection of stylistically expansive renditions of the Golden Age Persian pop-classics, pre-1979 Iranian Revolution. It features songs from trailblazing Iranian women like Ramesh who originally performed and recorded these songs during the era when women were allowed to sing as soloists. With this new album, Mitra Sumara draws attention to the fact that women singers in Iran today risk arrest if they sing as soloists before a mixed audience. It also celebrates the time when Iranian women once enjoyed greater social freedoms and sheds light on the politics of women who were in visible leadership roles in the arts and public life.
Yvette Massoudi’s creative process began in her Harlem apartment in New York City, conducting pre-production, song selection, research, score writing, and arrangements. During the summer of 2022, she recorded tracks at The Bridge Studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, co-owned by her friend Mona Kayhan, offering exceptional equipment and a supportive team. The recording process brought challenges as the team aimed to create a unique sound by fusing different musical styles while navigating the emotional impact of Mahsa Amini’s death in Iran and the following protests. She recalls, “We were all glued to our phones for weeks completely absorbed by the constant news coverage provided only via social media and overseas news outlets. The musicians on this project who are from Iran were gravely concerned about their families. The emotional impact of these protests and accounts of young protesters being killed by the government squashed many Iranian expatriates’ capacity for any form of cultural celebration despite the glimmer of hope that these protests could succeed in overthrowing the regime. Iranian musicians on tour were shamed on social media and forced to cancel performances. Iranians, in general, who had previously arranged vacation plans were also shamed for posting their photos, too.
Mixing this album was delayed by a few months because the news was distracting and painful; it felt impossible to even think of creating a danceable album of Persian music.”
“Dream” carries a powerful theme amid the current contentious time in Iran. An idea embraced by Yvette and producer Salmak Khaledi, who fostered and created an emotionally charged, unique collection of songs. Sonically, they found inspiration from the brass playing style of Takuya Kuroda and jazz influences of Yussef Dayes and mixed in Persian beats to create a new and refreshed groove-oriented album. They worked with notable musicians to create the album including Khaledi who played a custom-made trombone built with a copper bell instead of brass that creates a lusciously warm tone. Jack Gruber is on Fender Rhodes and Hammond Organ, as well as Ben Rubin on electric bass, and Salmak’s bandmate from the underground Iranian rock group 127 Band, Yahya Alkhansa, on drums. Yahya has also toured internationally with Iranian singer and composer Mohsen Namjoo.
“Dream” is a stand-out for Mitra Sumara and introduces jazz elements and pays homage to a pivotal time in Iran’s history. The album comprises a diverse selection of tracks, each with its own unique story and emotional resonance reimagined with a fresh perspective. Highlights include “Aroose Noghreh Poosh (The Silver Moon Bride)” originally recorded in 1975 by Ramesh and is a favorite of Yvette’s who reimagined it as a catchy, contemporary jazz and psychedelic rendition. “Shekare Ahoo (Deer Hunting)” was inspired by the renowned Iranian opera and folk singer Pari Zangeneh’s 1976 version, Yvette comments, “This dreamy, ethereal track is unlike the others on this album. I love its intimate and elastic quality. It captures the intensity of the lyrics and the loneliness of unrequited love.” “Sharme Booseh (Shame of the Kiss)” was a hit for Ramesh and is an unrequited love song with psychedelic musical touches. And “Asmar, Asmar” is a Kurdish folk song praising a woman named Asmar. Yevette comments, “I was inspired by Ramesh’s super danceable live version. We’ve kept the party-vibes with a driving beat, grooving bass, and hot keyboard solo.”
Mitra Sumara’s new album “Dream” is a labor of love and a testament to the human spirit’s resilience. It brings together different cultures and stories, highlighting the power of music to transcend boundaries and create change. “Dream” is out now and available everywhere you stream music. Save the new album here: https://mitrasumara.lnk.to/dream
This album was made with the support from: The NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theater by the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in association with The New York Foundation for the Arts.
with Mitra Sumara
About Mitra Sumara
Yvette Massoudi is a singer, bandleader, and producer who breathes new life and energy into classic songs to create music that transcends time.
In her project, Mitra Sumara, Yvette reshapes 60s/70s Iranian pop into contemporary funk and psychedelic tunes. Mitra Sumara made its mark with debut album Tahdig (Persian Cardinal, 2018), lauded as “rollicking Farsi funk” (John Schaefer NPR) and “groovy, boundary-breaking” (PopMatters), and became part of the NYC-based international floating party Disco Tehran. Mitra Sumara returns with Dream (Persian Cardinal, 2023), a brand-new collection of retro Persian hits that brings everyone to the dance floor with jazz-infused dance-groove arrangements of beloved international classics that harken to a bygone era of freedom and progress in Iran.