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Culture & Art

Iran’s iconic singer Shajarian hints at cancer, refers to illness as ‘old friend’

By Soran Khateri 22/3/2016
Mohammad Reza Shajarian jokingly hints at cancer in a Newroz video posted on You tube.
Mohammad Reza Shajarian jokingly hints at cancer in a Newroz video posted on You tube.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - With tears in his eyes, iconic Iranian singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian said he would return to his homeland from Canada once he comes to terms with old “friend” – an indirect reference to the kidney cancer he has suffered for some 15 years.

On the eve of Newroz – the Persian New Year – the 76-year-old, who has been a household name for decades, hinted for the first time in a video message that he has been suffering from cancer. Despite rumors and reports of kidney cancer, the cultural icon himself had never openly talked about his illness.

In the video published on YouTube Saturday, he said he would be staying a little while longer in Canada before returning home.

“I have been living with a guest that is my friend now for 15 years,” said Shajarian, referring to his illness. Referring humorously to the loss of his hair from chemotherapy, he said: “I have stayed here and cut my hair on his (my friend’s) order.”

“I am going stay here a little while more because I am at peace here, and my friend and I need some more time to agree on some issues,” he added.

Shajarian, who remains a legend in Iran for his renditions of some of Iran’s most famous classical poets, said he would resume his career once allowed by his health.
The couched revelation of his disease became a hot topic for his fans, who bombarded social media sites with comments and prayers.

“Thousands of prayers to accompany Ostad (master) Shajarian,” wrote Payam Hosseini, a Kurdish director from Iranian Kurdistan. 

“With God’s blessing Ostad Shajarian will be back in two to three months,” Iranian Health Minister Syed Hassan Hashemi said, together with a picture of Shajarian on Instagram.

Shajarian was born in 1940 in the Iranian city of Mashhad. Unlike most other Iranian singers, his songs have straddled both the era of Shah Mohammad Reza  Pahlavi and the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the monarch and imposed a clerical regime that has imposed strict restrictions on music and other art.

Nevertheless, the artist lost official support from Iran’s public broadcaster after speaking out in favor of the pro-democracy June 2009 protests that preceded presidential elections.

Watch video here:


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bebegun | 22/3/2016
So sad, he is a true master of classical Iranian music and has given joy to millions with his songs, he has a huge fan base amongst Kurds, we wish him the best and hope he recovers
Reber | 22/3/2016
Sad to hear this, we all love and admire his work, we'll be praying for him
Gulha | 26/3/2016
Sad to hear, but his legacy will remain immortal for generations. Besides, he's finished his purpose in this life.
pam | 28/3/2016
I am deeply sad to hear the news about Ostad Shajarian. I never forget those days that I was in University of Tehran and he and his students were having rehearsal outside of their department. He is my favourite singer and his legacy will remain immoral for generation to come. His songs, his character has affected many young and old people. Our prayers are with you always and hope you recover from this nasty illness. Best wishes and love from your fan in Vancouver Canada.
momtaz charepoo | 17/4/2016
My prayers with you. Since i heard your voice wour work i have not listened to any other singer. Your are only 10 days younger than i am what a difference between you and me.... I have one wish .. To get a chance to sing with you in person like I have been doing with your recorded work. You are peerless. Wish you speedy recovery.

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