Iran: Banned Israeli Persian-language album gains popularity

The music of Rita Jahan-Foruz — an Iranian-born, Israel-based singer — is becoming increasingly popular in both Iran and Israel, as political tensions grow between the two countries.

Israeli singer Rita performs in Jerusalem in February 2009. Photo courtesy of Itzik Edri

50-year-old Rita Jahan-Foruz’s music is banned in her birthplace Iran where any music whose singing, performance or distribution is not approved by the authorities is deemed illegal.

There’s added sensitivity to Rita’s music because she is an Israeli top singer. She has had about 40 hit singles and was named ‘Israel’s top female singer’ during the 60th anniversary of the country’s creation.

Rita’s supporters in Iran know the censorship law is hard to enforce, because people are downloading her music or listening to it regardless. More than 20,000 copies of her new album, ‘My Joys’, which is sung entirely in Farsi language, were sold in its first three weeks of release, told Rita’s manager Roni Arditi, and the album went gold in Israel within three weeks.

Rita Jahan-Foruz moved to Israel from the country’s arch-enemy Iran when she was eight years old. In 1985 she erupted onto the Israeli music scene as a one-named wonder — Israel’s Madonna, or Cher — and has since gone on to become one of the top recording artists and most recognized celebrities in Israel.


Bloomberg Businessweek – 20 August 2012:
Banned Israel Singer Rita Woos Iranians Amid Attack Fear


Huffington Post – 3 July 2012:
‘My Joys’ By Rita Jahanforuz, Israel’s Madonna, Hits Iranian Underground

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