Award winning Afghan singer and composer Farhad Darya has been the most influential musician on the Afghan Music scene since the mid 80s, and certainly is a founder of a new wave of music in Afghanistan. His influences have echoed throughout several music styles and subsequent generations. Darya is known as the most prominent voice and a revolutionary creative force behind the contemporary music of Afghanistan. He pioneered several different styles of songwriting, and redefined the role of vocalist in the music of Afghanistan while his style of singing has been among the very small number of the most emotional and easily identifiable voices.

Farhad Darya is a pioneer of committed and devoted music in Afghanistan: music committed to new ways of expression and devoted to human causes. From an artistic point of view, Farhad's music is both domestic (Afghan) and global (international), a blend of native and global sounds.

Darya spent years bridging the gap between urban and rural through his music, and Afghan music became more committed and obligated after his works and creations. He has been an extraordinary hit-maker since the late ‘80s. He has been original and has sounded like no others. His tastes are fairly eclectic, giving his songs a musical variety lacking in other Afghan music stars at that time.

Darya, who was the biggest news making artist during the conflict years, found his fame going beyond the boundaries of his country, reaching out as far as Central Asia, Iran, Pakistan, India, and further to Germany, Denmark, Italy, Australia, Canada, the U.S., the U.K., … and gradually the world heard Darya’s music and invited him for an outstanding performance, the first public spectacle in the historical COLOSSEUM of Rome, on May 11, 2001, in an international musical event where celebrities from all over the world, such as Ray Charles, and others participated, which further led his way to international fame and fans.

Darya’s never-ending struggle for Afghanistan’s music revival in the face of the most restrictive sanctions in the long history of music in his country, the political and social changes of 2001, and finally, after the collapse of Taliban, the revival of freedom announced by Radio Afghanistan (November 13, 2001) awakening the city with Darya’s song “Kabul Jaan” (beloved Kabul) fully introduced him to the Western world, to the point that Western media started calling him “The Voice of the Afghan Nation” (Die Welt, German newspaper) and “Man of the Day” (BBC Radio).

Farhad Darya was one of the very few Afghan musicians to break from the traditional structure of composition, orchestration, and vocal characterization. He created and sang in the following styles of music: semi-classical, old and modern Ghazal, folklore and traditional, pop, and experimental. That’s the reason why his audience ranges from the ages of 2 to 92, a phenomenon unheard of in Afghanistan’s music history. Darya has proven that music is not only the voice as itself. He identified the role of a songwriter as a fundamental component of a musical piece, ever more important than before.

During the reign of the red invaders, Darya was recognized as the founder of Afghan resistance music inside Afghanistan. Censorship of his music was enforced after Afghan national Radio & TV played his song “Raseed Mozhdah” ("The Time of Grief”) in the second year of his musical career in 1981.

Farhad has written and sung a remarkable array of songs in most major Afghan and regional languages and dialects such as Farsi-Dari, Pashto, Uzbek, Hazaragi, Urdu, and others. He has been drawing a rainbow of peace and harmony from the existing disparities for all this mosaic of people in his land.

* * * *

He was born on the first day of the autumn of 1962 in Kabul. Music certainly was not a career in Darya’s family. In 1980, Farhad made his first public appearance on the sole TV station in the country.

Traditional Afghan society could hardly envision the twenty-year-old Darya established as a classical singer, composer, lyricist, and above all a trendsetter and pioneer. After a short while, he moved from classical music towards the modern form of pop music in Afghanistan, which was filled with innovation. Darya realized that communicating via classical music and Ghazal was not sufficient in the flames of war and the chambers of smoke and agony. He moved towards folk music and created Afghan-style tunes. He brought new life and a fresh look to Afghan music, which made its way to the large cities by way of the sincere and wounded suburbs. This music was in every ear and on every tongue, signifying the agony of the Afghan nation.

Darya’s first professional album, featuring Ustad Mahwash, a prominent female singer from the preceding generation, also saw the light during these hard years of his professional life. All songs, both lyrics and music, were entirely of Darya’s creation. Although this album attracted substantial attention from all circles of music, it was not considered a hit. Following that, Darya and Mahwash released duet singles, which found a place in the heart of Afghan TV and Radio archives, of which “Maikhaana” (“Tavern”) was their first hit duet.

Darya’s first hit solo singles were “Alam Ganj,” “Laila Lakhta Da,” and “Laila Nawroz As,” all folk songs, which pushed the nineteen-year old Darya’s fame to the remotest cities.

In the midst of silence and political negligence, Darya raised his voice and tried to remove the ashes of filthiness from the Afghan music context. No one can deny the role and influence of Farhad Darya and his companion Qahar Asi on the formation of Afghan resistance music and poetry. These two voices of sincerity and affection deserve real appreciation. Not a single stanza in any of Darya’s songs has benefited any government; furthermore, most of his songs written and released inside Afghanistan opposed the communist regime.

While studying literature at the University of Kabul, Farhad formed “Goroh-e-Baran” (“The Rain Band”) with three other university students, and rocked the routine in music and Afghan tunes (1982). By creating “Baran,” he initiated a new genre in Afghan music, known today as Folk-Pop.
"Baran" or Rain descended with sincerity from the sky with a breath of life to soil and ash sprouting to flower and plant. Baran's reputation spread beyond boundaries increasing the numbers of fans thirsting for its genuine chants. It reached the peak of its career at a crucial time of Afghanistan history--the government of the communist regime. More vocalists’ careers were established through Baran and Darya's compositions exposed to public.
However, Darya’s passion for creativity and innovation didn’t limit itself to the folklore arena, which was never his intentional destination. He started to revitalize the original and unique Afghan melodies; he initiated a new showing of creativity in this area of music and led rural music to arrive in urban areas. The works of Baran were delivered in image clip format to fans through the national TV. Baran became a household name in a short while and became the most famous Afghan band ever in Afghanistan. On the day it was released, their first album, titled “Baran,” reached the hit position in the market. Two more albums from Baran, recorded live, went to the market and were outsold the market and achieved hit positions. Baran’s single hits such as “Aay-e-Mano Aay-e-Mann,” “Roz-e-Bazar,” “Dokhtar-e-Sardaar,” “Dokhtar,” “Watan-daar-e-Golom.” and “Baraan DJ,” which were mostly Darya’s work, were heavily copied and re-sung by Afghanistan’s major music artists, and a number of other artists achieved fame by this opportunity. Besides vocal music, Darya also left strong and unparalleled instrumental pieces for Baraan, a major portion of which are played by most Afghan radio stations throughout the world.

Unfortunately, Baran’s life was very short, and during the first few of their concerts outside Kabul city in the summer of 1985 in Mazaar-e-Shareef, they split up. The last TV album by Baran was sung in the absence of the band’s singers and then sent out for distribution. Baran’s split was never publicly announced and the reason for this split remains a mystery for millions of Baran’s fans everywhere to date. After disbanding Baran at the peak of their popularity, Darya continued to establish himself as a viable solo artist, one obsessed with expanding the boundaries of Afghan music.

He spent some time teaching classical music theory at Kabul University, but his creative mind and musical career created hurdles that kept him from continuing this noble work.

In those days when most professional and experienced musicians were either leaving the country for exile or would disappear from the scene because of the war and military service, for the very first time in Afghanistan’s music recording history, Darya introduced multi-track recording in 1986 in Afghanistan. From that point onwards till 1990, in addition to singing and arranging, he also played all his music as a one-man band. Due to the lack of recording facilities in Afghanistan during the war, he traveled to the Czech Republic and recorded four of his latest songs in studios in Prague. Upon his return, Darya had a hit, “Do Kaftar.”

As a “Founder of Afghan Resistance Music” inside Afghanistan, besides his voice and songs, he insisted, directly or emblematically, on resistance and struggled in his interviews and his appearances in the Afghan media. The ruling administration put pressure on this voice and dozens of his songs were censored. But the more pressure they applied, the more his voice got louder and found its way among the people. Darya was discharged from the university multiple times, and forced to serve in the military. He started a symbolic mirroring of the life and situation of Afghanistan in his audiovisual works for Afghan TV, and every now and then, he would set fire to a rope of execution and stage “Theater of Fighting Hands” representing the virtuous and victorious hands of Afghan people, or present the illustration of a nest collapsing within an autumn season.
In the summer of 1990, after many years of war and delay in selecting the Afghan Idol, the people finally voted and selected their most popular singer of the year, and that choice was none other than Farhad Darya. Finally at the end of that year, Darya left Afghanistan for Germany and started living in exile. He spent the first one and a half years of his exile in silence and nostalgia in Germany and France, always very much hopeful that he would return. At that time the Mujahedeen government had just come to power in Afghanistan and music had lost its position.

Even in the west, music was still boycotted among certain fanatic Afghans, however a "lady" and a "brother" come to Darya's assistance. The lady was Sultana Emam, a Sorbonne University graduate in Paris (a loyal fan and now Darya's spouse and partner in life); and the brother was Engineer Yama Yamkanesh who shoulder-to- shoulder with Darya put the winds back into his sails. Thus, after a year and half of silence, Darya performed for the first time in Hamburg’s “Musik Halle” and left hundreds of his enthusiastic fans waiting outside the sold out doors of the hall. His first concert in Hamburg was seen as a new start for his music career and created waves among the public.

Darya’s first album in exile, recorded in Paris and the little German town of “Wissen Sieg,” was titled “Begum Jaan” and released in 1992. With this album, computer, experimental, and a shadow of dramatic music entered the Afghan music stage. “Begum Jaan” was highly appreciated by the Afghan communities of artists, enlightened intellectuals, and scholars in the West, due to the enormous creativity and the fresh breeze that it displayed. While this album became a hit in Afghanistan, it received a smaller reception from Afghans living in exile in the West, because of their nostalgia for their home and their memories, and the thirst they had for their roots and for folklore music. This album had one big hit, “Kabul Jan,” whose music was arranged jointly with a Franco-Algerian musician in Paris.

Farhad Darya’s first video album in exile, titled “Aatesh Parcha,” was released in 1993 in Hamburg City. It was the first video album from the Afghan artist community in the West, semi-professionally put together, and it challenged both the artist and the art lover to search for listening to better art works. The biggest hit in this collection was “Naway-e-Benawaayee,” a semi-classical song, which was Darya’s own original work.

In 1995, Darya’s first hit album in exile titled “Afghanistan” was released in Hamburg and hit the markets of Afghan music worldwide. This album became the most public and acclaimed track collection due to its multilingual and multi-dialect Afghan nature, as well as its reflection of different tribal and ethnic Afghan music. “Afghanistan” proclaimed loudly the most beautiful and stunning method of national unity linking hearts slashed (by politics) with a silken string of music. The effects of this collection could be notably witnessed in the works of other Afghan artists as it set the bar for the Afghan music standards and values. The songs “Golom Golom,” “Asli Watan,” “Shaakh-e-Nabaat,” “Yanga Konduz,” “Sarzameen-e-Man,” “Tu Rafti,” and “Moray” provided a fresh atmosphere to the Afghan music era all over the world for many years.

Farhad had been better known as a recording artist in his country, but after the release of “Afghanistan” he gained incredible fame as a successful performing artist as well. He introduced new concepts in Afghan musical presentation during concerts and brought a new freshness to the overall atmosphere. Darya performed to sold-out houses in Germany, The United States, Great Britain, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Italy . . . with an aim toward keeping Afghan culture, music, and the light of hope alive among the Diaspora.

In the fall of 1995, he moved with his wife Sultana Darya to Virginia, in the U.S., and on March 1, 1996, he became the father to his son, Hejran.

“Shakar” was another of Darya’s hit albums that hit the market in 1997 in the United States. Most of the songs in this album were based on upbeat and fast dance music. However, eminent and superior songs such as “Aay Darya” and “Geria” that are considered among Darya’s most serious songs, with their unique and different style of music mixing both Afghan tunes and his new discoveries, introduced a new school of thought to the Afghan music industry. He had also written and sung samples of this type in Afghanistan, such as “Aazadi” (Freedom), etc.

“Dar Sarzameen-e-Begaana” (“In Foreign Land”) was Darya’s other hit audio album that was released in 1999 in California, U.S. One of its hit songs, “Khosham me Aayad,” became an unprecedented hit Afghan song in the Iranian community in and outside Iran, and it further added to Darya’s popularity in that nation. A year and a half after the release of “Dar Sarzameen-e- Begaana,” in response to the Iranian reception of the album, this album was released under the title “Khosham me Aayad” in the States.

… And finally, Farhad Darya released “Salaam Afghanistan,” his top and most successful hit album in 2003. He returned to his motherland after thirteen years of exile, filmed the album within Afghanistan and released it worldwide in DVD format. This album is considered as the most prominent work in Darya’s career and the crème de la crème of Afghan music today. “Salaam Afghanistan” not only broke the sales record for any album in the past few decades of Afghan music history, but also presented the original and kind face of Afghanistan in a meritorious and deserved way, and showed that Afghanistan is not just a collection of fire, war, weapons, and hatred. Messages of unity, beauty, and love were very strong and obvious in this collection.

This was an elaborately conceived video album that revolutionized the way music videos were made up to then in Afghan music. “Salaam Afghanistan” became a masterpiece, and after returning to Afghanistan during a very heated political and social time, Farhad Darya became one of the biggest idols representing change, unity and love of the Afghan nation, and is considered as a role model for the young generation.

Darya launched 15 albums and several singles in Afghanistan. He added another 15 albums while in exile. He has, time and again, received the title of “Best Singer of The Year,” both at home and abroad, and most recently in the summer of 2001 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Despite inventing a new entity and developing a signature style in regional music, Darya transformed the lessons learned from great Afghan music legends such as Ustad Qasem, Ustad Sarahang, Ustad Awalmeer, Ahmad Zahir, and other pioneer musicians who inspired him early in his career.

* * * *

With Farhad Darya, a rebirth of Afghan music has taken place. Darya is opening fresher, younger, wider, and more beautiful horizons for musicians and for the music audience. One can say that he is bringing on the beginning of a new period in Afghan music. Darya's grasp of literature and the origins of poetry is unique among Afghan musicians. He has experienced the historic sorority of poem and song, which has a massive basis in Afghan culture, better and more so than have his peers. Darya's songs reflect people's agony; within this context he wants his music to be sensible, responsive, and sincerely emotional rather than fly-by-night and superficial. In the past he called on people to struggle against puppet kingpins to achieve freedom. Today with the golden string of his voice he links disintegrated hearts.
Therefore for the last two decades of Afghanistan’s history, Darya's music has shaken politics. It is interesting that through his music, politics has been trying to build bridges with people. The politicians have known that people believe in Darya--in his voice and his honesty--and listen to him with the ear of their hearts. During Dr. Najib's time (1986-1992) as a propagandistic step towards “democracy,” the communist government lifted the ban on Darya's previously censored songs. Compositions such as "Maulaa Ali," "Winds are Coming," " Trees of Mountain Pass,” "The Time of Grief," "My Homeland," and others, were broadcast via TV and radio to show the people that there was no gap or distance between government and people anymore. After the fall of Najibulla's regime, the Mujahedeen celebrated their arrival by his songs (1992-1996); when the United States bombed and dropped aid (including radios) to Afghans, his songs were broadcast over the radio waves (2001). And finally after the collapse of the Taliban, Radio Afghanistan announced the revival of freedom (November 13, 2001), awakening the city with Darya's song "Kabul Jaan.” Darya caught the attention of hundreds of international journalists who recognized Darya's wounded nation through his voice.
For the last two decades, Darya has tried to mend the war-torn and disconnected Afghan nation and lead it towards unity, and he has sought to redefine an isolated people to the rest of the world. In response to the recent developments in Afghanistan, he launched a two-year benefit tour, titled “I am Cold!,” to help the greatly suffering and needy Afghan children.

Farhad Darya is the first Afghan musician to have come home from the West after the current socio-political developments in Afghanistan, and he has started to motivate and inspire the era of music in Afghanistan by founding Music Village, a large center for the rehabilitation and preservation of Afghan music in Kabul. He gave the biggest concert in the history of Afghan music in Kabul Stadium, exactly where innocent people used to be mercilessly executed by a regime of terror. After the largest censorship of music in Afghan history, Darya’s return illuminated a dawn of hope and promises of return to normalcy and peace in Afghanistan.

Home  |  Bio  |  Music  |  Gallery  |  Tours  |  News  |  Press  |  Awards  |  Store  |  Contact

©2004 Web Design & Maintenance by TriVision Studios.  All rights reserved.