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Lullabies from the Axis of Evil

Lullabies from the Axis of Evil Transcript

One of the more interesting and provocative musical projects to come out recently is an album from Norway called Lullabies from the Axis of Evil. Its composer, Knut Reiersrud, and producer, Erik Hillestad, mean for the CD to challenge the sweeping, stigmatizing nature of the political labels that are sometimes attached to whole countries, and thus to all of their citizens, including children and loving parents. It is more difficult to see an enemy when you don’t have to listen to songs like “Sad Sol,” a haunting, modern rendering of a traditional Iranian lullaby, sung by Mahas Vahdat, about how a child is a parent’s “garden flower,” the “song of [her] life.”

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Each of the 15 lullabies included here — from Palestine and Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, Syria, Cuba, and North Korea — combines the voices of two singers on each song. One is an artist native to that country, and the second is a singer from the West. Their parts have been recorded in separate studios, often on other sides of the world, and then mixed together. This leads to some very intriguing fusions: The Washington National Cathedral Girls Choristers join voices with the Irain singer Pari Zanganeh; Sun Ju Lee from North Korea sings her lullaby with Scotland’s Eddi Reader; and the Iranian Halla Bassam’s voice is intercut with Rickie Lee Jones for the Iraqi lullaby, “Garibe” which translates as “Watching Over Me”:

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These are moving, memorable songs, that transport us to new places, both musically and in our understanding, beyond geopolitics, of just how universal is the song of love and hope for one’s children.

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