Shusha Guppy

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Shushā Guppy
Shusha Guppy.jpg
Shushā Guppy
Background information
Birth name Shamsi Assār
Also known as Shusha
Born (1935-12-24)24 December 1935
Tehran, Iran
Died 21 March 2008(2008-03-21) (aged 72)
London, England
Genres Persian traditional music
Chanson
Singer-songwriter
Occupations Singer
Writer
Years active 1971–2008

Shushā (Shamsi) Guppy (Persian: شوشا (شمسی) گوپی‎), née Shamsi Assār [1] (شمسی عصار)(D(24 December 1935, Tehran, Iran — 21 March 2008, London, United Kingdom), was a writer, editor and, under the name of "Shusha", a singer of Persian and Western folk songs. She had lived in London since the mid-1960s.

Early life[edit]

Her father, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad-Kāzem Assār (آيت الله العظمي سيد محمد کاظم عصار), was a distinguished Shia theologian and Professor of Philosophy at University of Tehran. She was sent to Paris when she was only seventeen to study Oriental languages and philosophy. She also trained as an opera singer. In Paris she encountered artists, writers and poets such as Louis Aragon, Jose Bergamin, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. She was encouraged by Jacques Prévert to record albums of Persian folk songs, and subsequently chansons and old French songs.

She married the writer and explorer Nicholas Guppy in 1961. They had two sons, Darius and Constantine Guppy, and were divorced in 1976. At the time of her marriage she moved to London, where she became fluent in English; she was already fluent in Persian and French. Guppy wrote articles for major publications in both Britain and America. She also began singing professionally.

Singer[edit]

Guppy's first British release, in 1971, was an album of traditional Persian music, previously released in France. By now, influenced by the Folk Revival, she was writing and singing some of her own songs, as well as covering the works of many contemporary singer-songwriters. She gave successful concerts in Britain, America and continental Europe, and appeared on television and radio programmes. She gave concerts in the Netherlands and Belgium in 1975 with Lori Lieberman and Dimitri van Toren.

She contributed music and voice-over to the 1976 documentary film People of the Wind.[2][3] The following year the film was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar and also for a Golden Globe.[4] The film follows the annual migration of the nomadic Bakhtiari tribes in southern Iran. The soundtrack was later released in the USA. How much she contributed to the film is in dispute. According to Shusha Guppy herself: "What has saddened me, and frankly made me angry, is not the money — as I said I wanted to make the film and financial rewards were not my aim — but the fact that all the credits were taken from me on People of the Wind of which the idea, the production, and the text were mine."[5]

Discography[edit]

All are vinyl LPs except where noted. The years given are for the first British release.

  • Persian Love Songs and Mystic Chants (1971)
  • Songs of Long-time Lovers (1972)
  • Shusha (1974)
  • This is the Day (1974)
  • Before the Deluge (1975)
  • From East to West (1978)
  • Here I Love You (1980)
  • Lovely in the Dances: Songs of Sydney Carter (1981)
  • Durable Fire (1983)
  • Strange Affair (unknown)
  • La Fortune (unknown)
  • Refugee (1995 - CD on Sharrow Records)
  • Shusha / This is the Day (2001 - reissue on CD)

Writer and editor[edit]

Guppy promoted Persian culture and history, and was a commentator on relations between the West and the Islamic world. Guppy's first book, The Blindfold Horse: Memoirs of a Persian Childhood, was published in 1988. It was highly praised, winning the Yorkshire Post Prize from the Royal Society of Literature, the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, and the Grand Prix Littéraire de Elle. The book describes a Persia before the excesses of Shah Reza Pahlavi led to his overthrow, describing a country with an Islamic way of life without dogmatism or fanaticism.

Her last book, The Secret of Laughter (2005), is a collection of Persian fairy tales from Iran’s oral tradition. Many had never previously been published in written form.

For twenty years, until 2005, she was the London editor of the American literary journal The Paris Review.

Bibliography[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The name Shamsi (شمسی) is an attributive adjective, referring to the word Shams, the Sun, and may be interpreted as of or pertaining to the Sun. According to Dehkhoda, Assār (عصار) has two distinct meanings. The first refers to the professions dealing with pressing grapes or pressing oil-seeds; thus Assār is one who holds one of these professions. In this sense, the word Assār has its root in the word Osāreh, which means Juice or Ooze. The second interpretation is King and Refuge, in the meaning of one who provides shelter. In this second sense, Assār has also been used as a collective name. (Based on information gleaned from Loghat'nāmeh-ye Dehkhoda.)
  2. ^ http://[www.imdb.com/title/tt0075052/fullcredits#cast| "People of the Wind" crew and cast] Retrieved 25 December 2010
  3. ^ "People of the Wind" Retrieved 25 December 2010
  4. ^ "People of the Wind" awards Retrieved 25 December 2010
  5. ^ Milestone Films promotion of "People of the Wind" Retrieved 25 December 2010]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Obituaries[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Shusha Guppy at Allmusic
  • Shusha Guppy, A paean to kingship, The Guardian, Monday 18 February 2008. [1].
    Note: This is Shusha Guppy's valedictory Comment in The Guardian. It concludes with the words: "Well, the doctors have told me that my cancer is terminal and so I am having to dictate what is certainly my last piece of journalism."
  • Shusha Guppy, ASHA Foundation.
  • Shusha Guppy speaks in the documentary film on Omar Khayyām, Intoxicating Rhymes and Sobering Wine, Video on YouTube (1 min).
  • Shusha Guppy on her return to Iran, Woman's Hour, BBC Radio 4, 16 March 2006. [2] (8 min 35 sec).
  • Shusha Guppy, School of Illumination, Sunday Feature, 45 minutes, BBC Radio 3, Sunday 19 March 2006, [3].
    Note: At present BBC offers no audio recording or a transcript of this programme. The website presents however an extensive bibliography.
  • Shusha Guppy, What Rumi Means for Muslims Today, Heart and Soul Feature, BBC Radio World Service, Friday 27 June 2008 — rebroadcast from November 2007, [4] (26 min 30 sec).
  • Shusha Guppy, 'The Book of Kings' published in Parnassus (magazine), Vol. 30.
  • Shusha Guppy's song, Natalya, referred to in obituary for Natalya Gorbanevskaya in NY Times.