King Raam started his musical career as the singer/songwriter/founder of Hypernova, a post-punk band born in the Tehran underground of the early 2000’s. A politically active singer, he joined protests and wrote songs that spoke out against the government. In 2011, King Raam launched his solo career in Toronto with Songs of the Wolves, a personal and sincere album of love and loss.
In January 2018, King Raam’s father, Kavous Seyed Emami, a prominent Iranian/Canadian professor and environmentalist, was arrested under false pretenses of espionage. Two weeks after his arrest he died under suspicious circumstances in Tehran’s Evin Prison. King Raam and his family attempted to flee Iran, but Iranian authorities detained his mother and confiscated her passport. King Raam and his brother were allowed to depart, but his mother was held hostage in Iran for over 500 days.
In his new work, “Departure,” King Raam is channeling his creative energy into a storytelling performance about his family’s experience and his father’s legacy, woven together with his music. This piece is being developed during his residency in the Safe Haven Incubator for Musicians NYC (SHIM:NYC), an artist-at-risk residency program recently launched by Artistic Freedom Initiative and Tamizdat. SHIM:NYC is hosted at Westbeth Artists Housing and is piloted as part of the New York City Artist Safe Haven Residency Program. King Raam has been featured in MTV, NPR, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, CNN, PBS, BBC, and VICE.
King Raam’s performance is presented as part of Artistic Freedom Initiative’s RADICAL RECITATIONS, a four day arts festival that is not only a celebration of freedom of artistic expression, it is a testament to the radical power of storytelling to catalyze social change and a call to action in defense of artistic freedom.
Photography by Jonathan McPhail