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Despite enduring great personal risk in their homeland when music was controlled, censored, and finally, banned altogether, Ustad Farida Mahwash and Homayoun Sakhi persevered in developing their musical talent independently. Now working together as Voices of Afghanistan, these remarkable artists bring together and perform a blend of ghazals, Afghan folk songs imbued with Sufi mysticism, and ever evolving new takes on Afghanistan's musical legacy. Harris Center for the Arts is pleased to present what Opera News/SF Magazine has proclaimed "The passionate mixing of sensual and sacred was uncontainable...these gifted artists left us cheering for the art that endures devastation."

Through their spellbinding performances, they purvey hope for a new era of freedom and joy yet to come in their beloved homeland as they present Love Songs for Humanity. In addition they are joined by the Sakhi Ensemble, including Abbos Kosimov, Khalil Ragheb, Perviz Sakhi, and Ezmarrai Aref.

Voices of Afghanistan: Love Songs for Humanity will perform on Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 2 pm. Tickets are priced at $25-$35; Premium $45; Students with ID $12. Tickets are available online at www.harriscenter.net or from Harris Center Ticket Office at 916-608-6888 from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking is included in the price of the ticket. Harris Center is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, CA, facing East Bidwell Street.

Long considered "the voice of Afghanistan" and the first woman to be granted the honorific title of Ustad (Maestra), Farida Mahwash is celebrated around the globe for her ghazal repertoire. Mahwash's story is one of unyielding perseverance as witnessed by the great personal risk she encountered by performing in public during the early years of Taliban rule. After decades of political turmoil, she was forced to leave Afghanistan in 1991. She moved to Pakistan where she took refuge from the two warring sides of the time, each of which warned her to sing for their cause or else face assassination. Her plight was recognized by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and she was granted political asylum in the United States in 1992.

Mahwash was born into a conservative Afghan family. Her mother was a Quran teacher and religion loomed large throughout her upbringing. For many years, her interest in music was suppressed. Upon completing her studies, Farida accepted a position in the Kabul Radio Station. There, she was discovered by the station's director who encouraged her to pursue singing as a career. Her robust and mellifluous voice and her command of the subtle art of ornamentation have gone on to dazzle audiences worldwide, as she shares her country's rich musical heritage through performances and recordings.

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