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Producing the Music of Kurdish Refugees from Iraq

Project Overview

An opportunity for a family of Kurdish refugees from Iraq to record their traditional and original Kurdish music.

Identifying the Problem

While Raffi was working with the International Rescue Committee, an organization that helps to resettle refugees in the United States, he came into contact with Ghazi, Ali and Amina Ahmed, a family of Kurdish refugees from Iraq. Like many refugees, the Ahmed family faced the difficulty of integrating into a new society while also trying to find economic opportunities that build on their own skill sets. Yet the Ahmed family possessed an incredible musical talent, and before making the difficult decision to abandon their homeland, had performed their music all over the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Raffi had the opportunity to meet Ghazi Ahmed and hear him perform his music. “As a fellow musician from the area, I was floored and knew I wanted to create a record of his adept playing,” he says.

Creating A Solution

Raffi believed a high quality recording of the Ahmed family’s music would help facilitate economic opportunities for them. The Ahmeds were excited about the prospect of having their music recorded and made available to a wide audience. Raffi then connected with an audio engineer at a local university, who offered to donate one day of recording time and space. The Ahmed family’s music was recorded in a studio and then mixed by the engineer. The final step was to make the music available to the world. 

Raffi decided to take advantage of the accessible and profitable market created by web-based media. He created a page for the Ahmed famiy’s music (using Ghazi Ahmed's stage name, Ghazi Kurdstany) on bandcamp, a site that allows artists from all around the world to share and sell their music directly to fans over the internet. The music page allows visitors to listen to, download for free or purchase beautiful songs performed by the Ahmed family, which not only provides a source of income for the family, but helps them to continue doing what they love by promoting their musical talent.

Lessons Learned

Rafi acknowledges that since web-based media has flooded the music market, it can be difficult to draw attention to the music you have worked to produce. He notes that it is imperative that you work hard to build excitement around the initiative, which includes sharing the music with as many of the networks and communities of which you are a part.

Get Involved!

Visit the Ahmed family’s bandcamp page to listen to their music. The tracks are available for free download from the site. However, if you wish to pay for the music, you have the option of naming your own price! All profits from the sale of the music will be go directly to the Ahmed family. If you wish to contact the Ahmed family, perhaps to request that they perform their music at an event, you can email them directly. 

Raffi encourages musicians to connect with fellow musicians within their local refugee population and to help promote their native music.


Raffi did not raise any money for this project. The audio engineer who assisted in the recording and mixing of the Ahmed family’s music donated his time, equipment and recording studio. Raffi acknowledges that without the donation of these services, the project would have been quite expensive. He estimates it would have cost between $500 and $1,000 if not for the generous participation of his friend.

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About This Project

HIA Program:

France France 2008

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