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Opera singer Delaram Kamareh on what she faced growing up as a female vocalist in Iran




Iranian American opera singer Delaram Kamareh.
Iranian American opera singer Delaram Kamareh.
Iranian American opera singer Delaram Kamareh.
Iranian American opera singer Delaram Kamareh performing as part of The Industry's production of 'Invisible Cities' at L.A.'s Union Station.


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Iranian-American opera singer Delaram Kamareh came to the U.S. when she was just 18 years old. Her mother lived here — she married an Irish-American, which allowed Delaram to obtain her citizenship.

But she also chose to come to the States in order to pursue a career in the arts, specifically as a female classical vocalist. 

She’s come pretty far, pretty fast. In 2013, Kamareh took part in the Industry's critically acclaimed production of "Invisible Cities" inside L.A.'s Union Station. 

Now 25, Kamareh is a soloist this weekend in the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s performance of the “Water Passion After St. Matthew” by composer Tan Dun. The Frame producer Michelle Lanz caught up with Kamareh during a rehearsal earlier this week.

Interview highlights

On struggles early in her career:

I was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. Growing up, my father really liked me to, you know, pursue a career in the arts. But my mother wasn’t very eager... And it’s very common in the area of the world where I come from... It’s kind of like a grey area. It’s great to be a doctor and an engineer. But for your daughter to be an artist, it’s like, what are you gonna do? How are you gonna make a living there? Obviously, you can’t.

On coming to the U.S. to pursue a music career:

I came to the U.S. in 2007. I knew in my heart that I really wanted to pursue my music. I didn’t come from a musical background... I just knew nothing about where to start. There is an Abba song. You know that song? ‘I could sing before I could talk’ and ‘I could dance before I could walk.’ It was kind of the case with me as well. My dad would love to show me off to his friends. ‘Look, my daughter sings ‘The Little Mermaid’ in English'... I actually started singing Disney songs because that’s the only thing I was exposed to, musically.

On being a female singer in Iran:

In my country, a woman’s solo voice cannot be heard because it is considered a sexual thing... It’s kind of fascinating to people when they come to Iran and they go to concerts, for instance. It’s really funny actually, when a woman is singing alone and she has a solo line, there always has to be a male voice behind her. Doing something. Just whispering. So her voice purely, as it is, cannot be heard. And so they don’t encourage female soloists basically. They’re limited... They all have to leave like me in order to pursue their careers. And it’s a shame, because I’m really happy to be here and work, but at the same time, I’m really looking forward to the day when I can go back home and sing for people there.

Delaram Kamareh will be a soloist in the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s performance of the “Water Passion After St. Matthew” by composer Tan Dun; this Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12 at Walt Disney Concert Hall. More info at the Los Angeles Master Chorale's website



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