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Sunday, 30 July, 2000, 06:01 GMT 07:01 UK
Iranian diva finds her voice again
Toronto concert
Googoosh got a warm reception at the start of her tour
One of Iran's most popular singers has given her first public performance since the Islamic revolution more than 20 years ago.

Googoosh
Googoosh: An icon for her generation
Googoosh began a North American tour in Toronto on Saturday night, in front of 12,000-strong crowd, mainly made up of emigre Iranians.

The re-emergence of the 50-year old singer reflects the more liberal climate in Iran since President Mohammad Khatami came to power in 1997.

Most Iranians had never expected to see her perform again.

Sixties icon

In the 1960s, her seductive style and strong voice defined a new cosmopolitan chic in the Shah's Iran.

With her short dresses and cropped hair, her music defined the decade for Iranians in the same way that The Beatles embodied the 60s in the West.

Iranian concert-goers
Iranian emigres had thought they would never see Googoosh perform live again
Born Faegheh Atashin in northern Iran in 1950, Googoosh grew up in poverty - like the French singer Edith Piaf.

Her father was an alcoholic who took her to sing in bars and cafes from an early age to make money.

She was the victim of underworld gangs and had two brief, unhappy marriages.

As well as singing, she became famous for film appearances, which she began as a young girl.

Even after the 1979 Islamic revolution, her records continued to sell, but under the new regime she had to dress modestly and was unable to perform publicly.

She lived alone in Tehran, and played her songs at her piano.

In an interview with the Associated Press at the start of her tour, she said she decided to stay in Iran after the 1979 revolution out of love her for her homeland, giving up the chance to continue to perform abroad.

Before the concert, she admitted to being "a little bit nervous" about returning to the stage after so long a silence.

Greetings

On stage in Toronto, she became a link between expatriate Iranians and their families back in Iran.

Googoosh
The return to the stage after more than two decades was an emotional experience
She said she brought greetings from "your mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters from Iran.

"I think they would allow me to deliver their greetings to you and to wish that one day we're all in Iran," she said.

"All my relatives are waiting for me to call them in Iran after show," said one concert-goer, Roya Farzam.

Googoosh will continue to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, among other cities.

She will be appearing in two films directed by her third husband, Massoud Kimiai.

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19 Jun 00 | Middle East
Iran's pop diva to sing again
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