Azadoota (Assyria/Australia)

For over 20 years Azadoota has been performing contemporary Assyrian worldbeat for audiences across Australia – in pubs and bars and at festivals and events. Founder Robin Zirwanda was born in Iraq, the son of Iraqi Assyrian rock star Awimalk Haider. After migrating to Australia, Robin established a successful career as a percussionist, most notably touring with American folk singer Don McLean, before the rising profile of “world music” inspired him to start writing songs in his native Assyrian language.

Deliberately pitching his catchy originals to mainstream audiences, Robin uses the characteristic rhythms of Assyrian folk music, delivering them in contemporary arrangements. Traditional percussion works with driving bass and rhythm guitar give traditional beats a new life on the contemporary dance-floor. A powerful horn section heralds a renaissance of Assyrian culture, in defiance of the destruction occurring in their ancestral lands.

Azadoota performs in costumes inspired by their ancient royal ancestors, Ashurbanipal, AshurNasirpal, Nebuchadnezzar – which presents a colourful spectacle and inspires discussion about Assyrian heritage, musical history and cultural continuity. Their albums “Planetarian” and “Beyond Bridges” have had rave reviews, and their song “Lishana” has become an anthem for Assyrians living in the diaspora. Their recent releases “Mazreta” (Spinning Top) and “Unity” challenge Assyrians to protect their heritage in order to ensure their future. Hailed as “the act that sums up the WOMAD spirit”, Azadoota draws their audience in with theatrical musicality, presenting a tight, well-crafted and highly entertaining show.

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