/art © Raja Aissa/
Farida Mohammad Ali is a famous Iraqi singer, a legend. She’s known as the mother of Iraqi maqam, urban classical vocal tradition of Iraq. It is sometimes said that each maqam evokes a specific emotion or set of emotions – and listening to Ali, you will realize that is very much true.
Ali says poetry and topics like the beauty of nature or love and the grief of departure are an essential part of maqam repertoire. “When performing the maqam the reciter must feel these emotions and transmit them to the audience”, she explains in one of her interviews.
Ali currently lives in the Netherlands, she left Iraq in 1997. Living in exile is hard, but she was happy to establish the Iraqi Maqam Foundation in the Netherlands, together with her husband. Everybody involved with the foundation is aiming to convey the history and the essence of the maqam on an academic level.
A lot of things changed in Iraq, over the last decades Iraq has lost many of the things that made it such an amazing and diverse country, but Ali is sure of one thing – “the maqam is the essence of Iraq. The maqam will not die”.