Mohsen Namjoo is an Iranian artist, songwriter, singer, music scholar and setar (traditional Persian lute) player based in New York City. Hailed as “the Bob Dylan of Iran” by the New York Times, Namjoo is a visionary artist who speaks for the youth in Iran. Seamlessly blending the Classical Persian setar with electric guitar, and rock and blues vocal techniques with Persian avaz (singing), he fuses the ancient with the current.
Namjoo was born in 1976, in small city of Torbat-e-Jam in northeast of Iran, but grew up in Mashhad. Torbat-e-Jam is best known for its dotar (a traditional Iranian music instrument) players. He began to learn Iranian traditional music at the age of twelve, after death of his father--which widely affected his life. He started his studies in traditional Iranian singing (avaz) under supervision of Nassrolah Nasseh-Pour in courses organized by Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in Mashhad. After six years, eventually he completed the repertoire of Iranian traditional singing. In 1994 he entered the University of Dramatic Arts in Tehran as he was offered a position to study Theatre. A year after, in 1995 he joined the undergraduate music program at Tehran University where he was a student of some professional music instructors. During the days of studying music he also got familiar with western music. His music is essentially influenced by Jim Morrison, Chris Issak, Mark Knopfler, The Doors, Leonard Cohen and others.
Namjoo started to write music in early 90's. He has composed up to 100 pieces of music thus far nine of which have been published by Barbad Music in his first official album Toranj in 2007. He is also a lyricist but in most songs of Toranj, he has mainly preferred to use poets from great Iranian traditional poems like Hafez, Rumi and Sa`di. An interesting point about Namjoo's songs is that for even a Persian who listens to his music for the first time the words may be slightly hard to understand! It is totally because of his unique way of performing the vocals. This point is what many critics have criticized him upon. Some conservative people may find his way of singing, which often turns out to be quite strange and funny during a song, rude to Persian literature while others may find his efforts very intimate. As he himself states in a documentary made based on his life, his music is all about tearing apart taboos and experiencing new moulds. As far as Namjoo's music in concerned, it is obvious that he has proper affinity with both Persian and western music. He also has the courage to mix them.
Since his arrival to the U.S. in 2011, Namjoo has been touring the world to sold out concerts at prestigious halls such as Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco; Conservatorio Sala Verdi, Milan, Italy; Disney Hall, Los Angeles and many more. His latest album "Voices from the East" with Nederlands Blazers Ensemble was released on June, 2017.