By Amina Nazarli
Her unique voice purifies soles, embraces listeners with her unique aura and leads them to a world of spirituality. Majestic mugham is her strong and magic tool to win over hearts. Her voice eclipses every murmur; everything abates when she performs....
Her mellow, yet commanding voice flowed into the hearts of her audience even after her very first performance with her father -- the world famous Azerbaijani mugham singer, Alim Gasimov.
Fargana Gasimova, then a young and talented mugham star, gained popularity for her brilliant performances of the Azerbaijani folk music, listed in UNESCO's cultural heritage list.
Her father has always been the major driver of her professional life and career. She grew up with the captivating sounds of mugham and verses from the classical poetry of Azerbaijan. Since the age of four, Fergana often performed alongside with her father at home.
"There was never any question about my being given to a teacher... Music was always just a part of everyday life. I sang with my father for fun, and it was only when I was around seventeen years old that I seriously understood that I’d be a musician,” she said in an interview with Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
Fargana first gained publicity in 1995, when at the age of sixteen, she joined her already distinguished father in a concert tour of Germany for the first time. Since then, she has been performing frequently with her father at many of the most prestigious music stages in both Azerbaijan and abroad.
The joyful spirit of Alim and Fargana Gasimov’s homespun styles have left their mark on the very form of the music, particularly on the exquisitely disciplined balance between memorization and extemporization that is an essential part of the art of mugham.
“We never put before ourselves the aim of singing mugham in the form of a duet or carrying out any kind of reform,” said Alim Gasimov of the sinuous vocal arrangements he performs with Fargana. “Rather, what we do appeared spontaneously in the process of rehearsing. We liked it, and we started to practice it.”
With their unique performance style, combining a deep knowledge of the centuries-old rules of mugham with challenging innovations, the duo never ceases to surprise their fans. Their style is distinguished by an extreme intensity that mesmerizes audiences.
Fargana stresses that the duet and national mugham in general are very well liked outside of the country. “Foreigners accept our mugham as a means of soul purification and get great pleasure from this,” she said.
By the age of twenty, she had become a fully-fledged singer in her own right and Gasimov decided to introduce his daughter to his ensemble.
"Although I am her father, we have taken the journey in mugham together. Though I had begun earlier, it was with her birth that my own work became serious, or professional. Before then, I was just a playful young man in love with mugham," Gasimov said in an interview with Al-Ahram Weekly.
In 2002, Fargana made her first appearance as a soloist at the Women's Voices Festival in Belgium.
She released “Yalniz Ona Doghru,” which became her first album in 2014 and in the same year, the singer gave her first solo concert in Baku.
Under his father's guidance, Fargana aims to reconnect younger generations with mugham.
She travels the whole world together with her father and her every performance imprints her audiences with something charming and mythical, but still inexplicable.
Fargana performed at the “The Spirit of the East” concert, composed and directed by Israeli Mirzahi musician Peretz Eliyahu and Mark Eliyahu in 1999. Later she recorded and released Central Asian Series, Vol. 6: Spiritual Music of Azerbaijan with her father in 2007.
She also took the opportunity to perform in New York City in 2005 as part of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project and has been part of various concerts and festivals in Sweden, Japan, France, Austria, Belgium, England, Italy, and Poland, earning a reputation of a master of mugham.
Fargana was twice issued a presidential award for developing Azerbaijani music in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
To those who are not yet acquainted with the charming voice of the young star, you have chance to experience this splendor at her solo concert at the International Mugham Center on October 9.