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Iranian Singer-Songwriter Headlines VOA Concert

Mohsen Namjoo, considered Iran's Bob Dylan, makes his international live television concert debut on VOA

Washington, D.C., March 18, 2010—The singer-songwriter considered Iran’s Bob Dylan makes his international live television concert debut this Saturday on a three-hour Persian Nowruz, or New Year’s, special that will be broadcast on the Voice of America’s Persian News Network and beamed into Iran by multiple satellites.

Mohsen Namjoo, sentenced in absentia to five year’s imprisonment for his music, is among several entertainers and other celebrities appearing in the VOA Nowruz special. Also on stage live from the Newseum in Washington D.C. will be Persian rap artist Shahin Najafi, who fled Iran after coming under pressure from government authorities to remove political messages from his music, and the 127 Band, which merges Iranian and other music influences to create a unique sound.

Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi will deliver a special New Year’s message during the show. Other guests will include Anousheh Ansari, the world’s first female private space explorer and the first astronaut of Iranian descent; Oscar nominee and Emmy award winning Iranian-American actress Shohreh Aghdashloo; award-winning filmmaker and photographer Shirin Neshat; and exiled Iranian novelist, poet, critic and political activist Reza Baraheni.

The live special will be hosted by Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi, the hosts of VOA Persian News Network’s popular satirical show “Parazit.” Besides entertainment, Saturday’s show, dubbed “Norouzit,” will take a look back at the tumultuous events of the past year in Iran, especially the disputed Presidential election of last June and the protest movement that grew in its wake.

“I expect this to be the Nowruz special of all Nowruz specials of all times on any network,” said PNN Acting Director Alex Belida. “This is our extra special gift to a loyal audience in Iran as well as a tribute to a talented and dedicated staff that is so committed to serving a country where freedom of the press and freedom of expression are in short supply.”

Saturday, Mar. 20, will also mark the launch of VOA’s new English-learning website for Farsi-speakers,

VOA's PNN ( has the largest combined television and radio audience in Iran of all international broadcasters, with nearly 30% of adult Iranians watching a VOA program at least once a week. VOA broadcasts seven hours of television daily, repeated in a 24-hour format, and five hours of radio. Broadcasts are available round-the-clock on the Internet.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States.

For more information, please call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail