Jazz siren Rana Farhan proclaims on her web site: “Jazz is peace.” She’s not just borrowing 60s flower child rhetoric. She knows firsthand.
Born in Iran, Rana grew up listening to any albums she could get her hands on, fostering a love for American blues artists like Brownie McGhee, Leadbelly, and Johnny Winter; while rockin’ to Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Soon she was begging her older brother to teach her guitar and singing through a microphone she had plugged into an old radio in her families living room.
Rana left Iran after the religious revolution made her artistic pursuits nearly impossible and she soon found herself in New York City, exploring her talents in lacquer paintings, restoring antique furniture, and soaking in the sounds and music of Manhattan. Discovering a love of jazz, Farhan got hooked after hearing a Billie Holiday record one day while strolling through the rich cultural district of Harlem. She decided then and there that this is what she wanted to do.
In her first full-length CD “The Blues Are Brewin’”, Rana set her sights on American standards, mixing jazz with blues and even a bit of funk, making it accessible to Top 40 fans. Her delicate yet sultry voice gave each song a sensual, earthy vibe, turning each song into a musical swoon. Soon the album was picked up by independent radio stations and added to the playlists of "The Upper Room with Joe Kelley" WVOF 88.5 FM in Fairfield CT, “Persian Hour” KYRS 92.3 FM in Spokane Washington, and Buenos Aires’ “Goodtime Blues Show” in Argentina.
It was her second release “I Return”, a compilation of classical Farsi (Persian) poetry set to contemporary blues and jazz music that really set the world on fire.
After distributing a track called “Rumi’s Prayer”, based on a poem by the 13th century Iranian poet Rumi, to her friends, the song found it’s way to the internet and the response from both American and International listeners was overwhelming. With a demand for more, Farhan and her writing partner, guitarist Steven Toub, began writing and recording the album working off of both Rumi and Hafez (a 14th century poet), compiling one of the most sensitive fusions of two distant cultures.
New York audiences, who were already caught up in Rana’s energy, and packing her performances at Jazz clubs such as the Lenox Lounge and Birdland, were now joined by sold-out shows at the Cowell Theater in San Francisco and the Glow Bar in Los Angeles.Read more
December 10, 2008
“I am very picky and I hardly ever choose more than one track from any CD to play on my show. But I love every song on Rana’s new album and can’t wait to play them all!” - Shahrokh Nikfar, The Persian Hour - KYRS Thin Air Radio
"Seductive, exotic, and absolutely gorgeous, this Persian-born artists voice could melt a blizzard." - Jennifer Layton, IndieMusic.com
Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson