Ooldouz Pouri: Waiting for the Dawn

March 4, 2019

Songs for a Long Night

Listening Post 191. Flowers, dreams and music have this in common: They bloom even in harsh climes. An elegant example is Waiting for the Dawn, Ooldouz Pouri’s first solo album. The hour of sunrise, even the year, may be in doubt. The point is that she sings—passionately, radiantly—her voice floating on songs from bygone eras that inspire hope in difficult times. Pouri was born in Tabriz, in northwestern Iran, where the majority of residents are ethnic Azeris; she now lives in Teheran (also home to a large Azeri minority), but due to legal restrictions on women singing in public she records in Norway. Her album tracks (nine in Azerbaijani, one in Farsi) are a mix of traditional ballads and popular tunes from the 1950s and 60s, when great divas flourished in Iran. Though the collection is suffused with Middle Eastern flavor, a multi-national band—notably Serbian-Norwegian accordionist Jovan Pavlovic—facilitates Pouri’s embrace of congenial sounds, including tango, bal-musette and blues. Many are the faces of love in her stories: There’s a heartbreaking beauty to Nece ünüdüm seni (How can I forget you?), lamenting, “Together we built a world in which/You were the stone and I was the dust” (video 1). Sorrow gives way to swagger in Sevmamak Olmaz (Can’t help falling in love), featuring a siren who takes full advantage of her beauty (video 2). Shabe Mahtab (The moonlit night), the sole track in Farsi, is a lilting ode to aspirational romance (video 3), while an aching hope of reconciliation drives Kuçelere Su sepmişam (I have swept the dust off the lanes, video 4). From childhood, Pouri dreamed of singing but she lives in a time and place offering little encouragement. However remote the dawn of harmony between her country and her voice, her songs create their own light. (Kirkelig Kulturverksted) 

Related post: Ooldouz Pouri was part of the ensemble Young Iranian Female Voices that recorded the 2016 collection Songs in the Mist. For a review of that album, on which Pouri performs two songs that also appear on Waiting for the Dawn, see Listening Post 116, September 18, 2017.

Young Iranian Female Voices: Songs in the Mist

Waiting for the Dawn
Ooldouz Pouri: vocals
Jovan Pavlovic: accordion
Olav Torget: guitar

Gjermund Silset: double bass
Ali Rahimi: percussion


Nece ünüdüm seni/How can I forget you?
Lyrics: Zivar Aqayeva/Music: Oktay Rajabov
(from the Azerbaijani lyrics, translated by Ahmad Pouri)

How can I forget you?/
You are the tears in my eyes
The secret keeper of my heart/How can I forget you?

You changed into blood in my heart
A white strand in my hair/
Wrinkle on my forehead

We together fulfilled our wishes/Together we built a world in which
You were the stone I was the dust/How can I forget you?


Sevmamak Olmaz/Can’t help falling in love
Azeri folk song
(from the Azerbaijani lyrics, translated by Ahmad Pouri)

Flowers blossomed and spread everywhere/Many young men fell into the fire of my love
Nobody can find a flower smarter than me/Who can help falling in love with me?

Snow looks beautiful on the peaks/So do the fruits on the trees
Don’t be so proud of yourself, my soul/There may be more beautiful than you

I neither climb mountains
/nor fall in or out with any one
I am the prettiest, let’s agree
/Nobody can help falling in love with me!


Shabe Mahtab/The moonlit night
Persian folk song
(from the Farsi lyrics, translated by Ahmad Pouri) 

I cried and moaned/Looking for you
With a restless heart/In your neighborhood
That moonlit night

You are a swallow of springtime/The beauty of dawn in the meadows
Thirsty for running springs

O darling, the dew of spring!
O my love, the luminous star in the sky!


Kuçelere Su sepmişam/I have swept the dust off the lanes
Azeri folk song
(from the Azerbaijani lyrics, translated by Ahmad Pouri)

I have swept the dust off the lanes/Watered the dry earth for you
To come to me on a dustless road
Let’s meet and depart/Without a single bitter word

I have fired the samovar/
Put sugar in the cup
Made tea for you
My beloved has abandoned me/Left me alone

How sweet is my beloved!
How dear this beloved of mine!



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