Homayoun Shajarian: From Novice to Master

The son of Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Homayoun Shajarian’s musical pedigree is enviable, his mastery of the tombak, lilting voice and ability to conjure such lyrical beauty engender mellifluous gems. Homayoun reigns absolute, like an old master of the fine arts, he has studiously trained in his field, working tirelessly to become an artist of consummate perfection. His music, bountiful in aesthetic precision and so prolific in poetic sentiments enriches the soul. Often focusing on the love lorn and metaphysical, Homayoun Shajarian has, under his father’s tutelage, become the perfect repository of Persian culture, with influences that span the many pantheons of poetry, philosophy, music and art.

Homayoun Shajarian is one of those musicians with whom it is near impossible to categorise, for the sake of ease, he would be classed in the bracket of classical Persian, yet his versatility means that he can transcend the pigeon holes, gifting his divine skills to many an artist of many genres and sub-genres. Several years ago, his collaboration with Sohrab Pournazeri, for the film Arayesh-e Ghaliz, saw Homayoun break with tradition and work his vocal gymnastics into the song Ba Man Sanama, which fused together Western and Eastern methods.

To many he will be loved eternally for the song Havaye Gerye (roughly translated as Feel Like Crying). Lyrically, it was an outstanding and heart breaking concoction about a love lost, the realisation that a certain beauty and happiness are unobtainable, poetically in the same vein as the great lyricists and poets like Sa’adi, Hafez and Dariush Rafiee et al. Perhaps it’s understandable that with such an artistic familial heritage, he could quite easily articulate such a deep emotion; however, a majestic talent like that is honed through years of devoted and passionate learning, and not just God given.

Musically, Havaye Gerye was so perfectly executed, with each note complimenting the other seamlessly, featuring no dramatic deviation nor contrast, all the components – music, lyrics and Homayoun’s voice, worked in sublime unity. Coming from a family where Sufism plays an influencing role, as it does for many classical Persian musicians, Homayoun’s creations always have a touch of the seraphic, whether a mournful composition or celebratory explosion of joyfulness.

A man who is now able to boast a back-catalogue that almost rivals his father, for me, Homayoun Shajarian holds a special place in my heart, as one of those few artists who can instantly strike up an emotion within me. He can make me cry singing about a loss or painful regret and give me tingles of happiness when reciting a Rumi or Nizami poem, set to a majestic combination of tombaks and setars.

As an artist of such a prolific nature, it’s hard to understand why he hasn’t transcended into greater recognition, that is to say, why he hasn’t become globally recognised. Rightfully cherished by Persians at home and abroad, as well as appreciated by many in the world music arena, it would be good to see him cross the boundaries even further. Yet, he has already secured his place as being a man whose legacy will never fade.