Hayedeh, the legendary diva of Persia, was born in Tehran. Her career began as a singer on a Tehran radio program called Golhaye Rangarang (Colorful Flowers), directed by Davood Pirnia. She studied avaz (Persian Vocal Music) with the great Persian violinist and composer Ali Tajvidi. “Azadeh” (Music by Ali Tajvidi, Lyrics by Rahi Moayeri) was Hayedeh’s first hit, performed on Radio Tehran with the Golha Orchestra in 1968. This outstanding work introduced Hayedeh’s vocal ability to Persians (Iranians) who warmly received it. “Azadeh” was released by Apolon Records (Directed by Manouchehr Bibiyan) in Tehran.
Beginning in the 1970s Hayedeh added pop music to her classical Persian repertoire. Throughout her career Hayedeh worked with many different composers such as Ali Tajvidi, Farid Zoland, Anoushiravan Rohani, Sadegh Nojuki, Andranik and Mohammad Heydari. Prominent lyricists she worked with included Esmaeel Navabe Safa, Bijan Taraghi, Leila Kasra (Hedieh), Homa Mir Afshar, and Ardalan Sarfaraz. Her works were released by Taraneh Records, Pars Video and Caltex Records, three California based Persian music companies.
In the summer of 1978, she emigrated to the United Kingdom, and went on to the United States in 1982 to continue her career. From 1982 until the end of her life, Hayedeh lived in Los Angeles near her sister, Mahasti, also a well known Persian singer. Hayedeh's career was bolstered in the 1980s by the growth of the Persian American community in Southern California due to the increasing number of Persians leaving Persia (Iran) to escape the fundamentalist government. Hayedeh’s political and nostalgic songs became very popular and loved in the Persian community, especially by those in exile.
During this time, Hayedeh regularly appeared in the Los Angeles based Jaam-e-Jam TV, which was established by Manouchehr Bibiyan and a few other Persian artists in exile. Hayedeh not only criticized Iran’s fundamental regime in some of her TV programs, but also recorded more than 40 music videos at Jaam-e Jam Studio, most of which were secretly distributed in her homeland.
Hayedeh traveled twice to London and gave two concerts with a large orchestra (conducted by Farnoush Behzad) at the Royal Albert Hall. She also appeared once at UCLA with a Persian instruments ensemble, led by Manouchehr Sadeghi.
Prof. Erik Nakhjavani writes about Hayedeh’s vocal style in Encyclopedia Iranica: “Analogues to Delkash, before her, Hayedeh sang with technical authority and passionate energy. Her laryngeal control made it possible for her to produce a series of graceful vibrato and glissando vocalizations required by the Avaz. She could smoothly pass from the upper reaches of her alto voice to the lower, fuller, and darker range of the contralto. This mixture of strong laryngeal strength and learned vocal technique gave her alto contralto voice a rare, powerful resonance and texture in the performance of the Avaz. Furthermore an acute sense for musical timing, the rhythmic flow of vocal music, affective musical phrasing, and poetic delivery enabled her to express and interpret effectively any songs she sang.”
Hayedeh died at the age of 47, from a heart attack, a few hours after a concert at the Casablanca Club in San Francisco, California. In the concert, Hayedeh performed most of her memorable songs for hundreds of Persian immigrants based in Northern California. Khosrow Motarjemi, a Persian IT expert in California, took a video which was never released. That night Hayedeh told people: “Life is like an express train... I am going to the House of God. Who knows what will happen in the future; I may not be alive tomorrow...” Then she performed one of her last songs, “Man Mikham Be Khoune ye Khoda Beram” (I want to go to the House of God). The song’s lyricist, Leila Kasra (Hedieh), died of cancer a few months before Hayedeh.
Hayedeh’s funeral was held in Los Angeles’ Westwood Cemetery, attended by thousands of Persians. The singer Vigen, Homa Sarshar (journalist), Hasan Shahbaz (Editor of Rahavard Quarterly), and Ghods Razavi (Head of the VOA Persian Service) were among those who gave a lecture during the ceremony.
After Hayedeh’s death, some Persian singers and musicians composed and performed pieces in her memory. Houshmand Aghili performed Hayedeh’s “Sarab,” Parviz Rahman Panah remixed her “Saal”, Shahla Sarshar performed a tragic song called “In Memory of Hayedeh,” and Mahasti performed three songs for her late sister Hayedeh.
Hayedeh married 3 times and left three children: Kamran, Keyvan and Noushin, all of whom live in the USA.
Hayedeh’s gravestone in Westwood Cemetery, Los Angeles (Photo by Arash Behtash)