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My Voice Is My Home: A Workshop with Mahsa Vahdat

  • Silk Road House 1944 University Avenue Berkeley, CA, 94704 United States (map)

Kitka is truly honored to continue our vocal workshop and intimate dialogue series with the exquisite vocalist and cultural activist Mahsa Vahdat from Tehran, Iran. The theme of this workshop will be "Home." How do we carry notions of home, heritage, and belonging through giving authentic voice to our songs and stories? How do we preserve and transform the song legacies of our ancestors in a far away lands?

The fundamental question ”Where Is Home?” constantly dwells in Mahsa Vahdat’s mind as a reflection of her longing and hopes. Ever since her childhood, she has wrestled with the question of where our true home resides. On a deep level this question is relevant for all human beings.

Mahsa Vahdat is on a path of music and art, and she has been so for most of her life. Banned from singing in her homeland, she has become a wanderer, now living and singing in exile. While her relationship with her homeland is a complicated one, the whole world has become her stage. In spite of her "placeless" existence, she has discovered the hearth of her true home within her voice.

In this workshop, Mahsa Vahdat will share songs and vocal techniques from the lineages of Persian traditional and classical music. Singing together as a group, participants will explore Persian musical modes, ornamentation, and traditional song styles from different regions of Iran.

Evocative poetry is fundamentally woven into the fabric of Mahsa's repertoire. Mahsa will select historical and contemporary poems evoking the theme of "home" as inspirational fodder for collective singing. Mahsa will demonstrate how to find paths to text interpretation to generate profound personal emotional expression.

In these gatherings, Mahsa will also share her experiences of being a professional vocalist in Iran, including the challenges she has overcome to keep intact the rich legacy of female vocal arts alive in an era when the voices of women are harshly restricted from public presentation.

Together, workshop participants will summon the power of song to forge personal and community resilience, empowerment, and liberation in the face of hardship.

Registration is limited to 15 participants and open to musicians of all backgrounds and levels.

Born in Tehran in 1973, Mahsa Vahdat began studying piano and Persian singing from an early age. She also learned to play the setar, a traditional Persian stringed instrument. Mahsa entered the University of Arts in Tehran in 1993, graduating with a B.A. in Music. Since 1995, Mahsa has performed and taught as an independent artist in concerts and festivals in Asia, Europe, the US, and Africa, and has collaborated with numerous musician from many continents. She performs regularly in a vocal duet with her sister, Marjan Vahdat.

Following her participation in the 2004 Lullabies from the Axis of Evil, recording project, Mahsa started a long partnership with the Norwegian record label Kirkelig Kulturverksted (KKV) which has led to worldwide release of a series of critically acclaimed albums. Since 2007, Mahsa has been an ambassador for the Freemuse Organization, an independent international organization that advocates for freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide. In 2010, Mahsa Vahdat was granted the Freemuse Award.

Recently, Mahsa released an award-winning new solo a cappella album entitled "The Sun Will Rise." "Placeless" a new recording with Kronos Quartet and Marjan Vahdat was released this month on the KKV label.

For more information about Mahsa Vahdat, visit