Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdat and Kurdish singer and activist Ferhat Tunç are the 2010 Freemuse Award winners. The artists received the award at a ceremony in London on 25 March.
Mahsa Vahdat from Iran and Ferhat Tunç from Turkey are well-known to many Freemuse associates. They are strong defenders of freedom of musical expression and well-known to audiences in Europe, where their music — unlike in their home countries — can be performed without restrictions.
The Award Committee stated: “Mahsa Vahdat continues to resist all pressures that the conservative sectors of Iranian society put on woman musicians. Despite such pressures Iran has a remarkably vibrant music scene that ridicules the clichés that are often written about the country, and Mahsa is a fabulous example of this. Last year, she recorded an album with Mighty Sam McClain, an artist from the ‘enemy nation’ — the US. Her courage and bold resistance in continuing to follow her artistic muse makes her an ideal laureate.”
“For almost three decades Ferhat Tunç has insisted on exercising his right to perform his music in spite of several court cases and other threats against him,” the Award Committee said in its nomination.
“He has continued to sing songs in the minority language Zaza (Dimli) and in Kurmanci (Kurdish) as well as Turkish. He has refused in a firm way to succumb to all the intimidations, but without expressing any hatred against his perpetrators. Ferhat has actively propagated the strengthening of human rights and democracy in Turkey.”