Shusha Guppy


Biography of Shusha Guppy

Shushā (Shamsi) Guppy (24 December 1935, Tehran, Iran — 21 March 2008, London, United Kingdom), was a writer, editor and, under the name of "Shusha", a singer of Persian and Western folk songs. She had lived in London since the mid 1960s.

Early life

Her father, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad-Kāzem Assār was a distinguished Shia theologian and Professor of Philosophy at University of Tehran. She was sent to Paris when she was only seventeen to study Oriental languages and philosophy. She also trained as an opera singer. In Paris she encountered artists, writers and poets such as Louis Aragon, Jose Bergamin, Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. She was encouraged by Jacques Prévert to record albums of Persian folk songs, and subsequently chansons and old French songs.

She married the writer and explorer Nicholas Guppy in 1961. They had two sons, Darius and Constantine Guppy, and were divorced in 1976. At the time of her marriage she moved to London, where she became fluent in English; she was already fluent in Persian and French. Guppy wrote articles for major publications in both Britain and America. She also began singing professionally.

Singer

Guppy's first British release, in 1971, was an album of traditional Persian music, previously released in France. By now, influenced by the Folk Revival, she was writing and singing some of her own songs, as well as covering the works of many contemporary singer-songwriters. She gave successful concerts in Britain, America and continental Europe, and appeared on television and radio programmes. She gave concerts in Holland and Belgium in 1975 with Lori Lieberman and Dimitri van Toren.

She contributed music and voice-over to the 1976 documentary film People of the Wind. The following year the film was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar and also for a Golden Globe. The film follows the annual migration of the nomadic Bakhtiari tribes in southern Iran. The soundtrack was later released in the USA. How much she contributed to the film is in dispute. According to Shusha Guppy herself: "What has saddened me, and frankly made me angry, is not the money — as I said I wanted to make the film and financial rewards were not my aim — but the fact that all the credits were taken from me on People of the Wind of which the idea, the production, and the text were mine."

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