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Iranian-American concert promoter forced to cancel shows

Iranian-American musician Fared Shafinury performs.
Iranian-American musician Fared Shafinury performs.

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An Iranian-American concert promoter in Los Angeles had to make some difficult calls in the wake of the executive order issued by President Trump on Friday.

When people from seven, majority-Muslim countries were temporarily barred from entering the United States, that meant Shari Rezai had to cancel a number of concerts she’d organized with Iranian musicians. She often helps these musicians obtain their performance visas, a process that she says can take several months.

KPCC reporter Priska Neely connected with Rezai to hear about the effects the travel ban has had on her business and the Iranian musicians she works with.

Conversation Highlights

On working to obtain performance visas for Iranian musicians:

It [usually takes] six months, but you can do an expedited one for about four months. So we usually have to start these processes in advance. We just had signed up two bands to bring here, and we had to cancel it because of this ban.

On the reaction of the Iranian musicians she works with:

Very disappointed. They were really looking forward to this tour. So it affects their income. It affects their mood, obviously. It affects their livelihood.

They understand that we have no choice and we do tell them, Let's wait and see what happens. And we're not giving up. This is so, in my view, unconstitutional. And there are lots of lawsuits against it, so hopefully it will get resolved and we can all get back to business. And the artists can create and come and heal our souls.

On her concerns for the future of her business:

When it first came out, I said, Wow ... is this going to be my last show? Am I closing down business? And who am I going to work with? But there are a lot of Iranians in L.A. that I reached out to, and we can work together and hopefully do a multi-artist tour and call it "The Immigrant Tour."

On her first concert after the travel ban:

I was worried nobody's going to show up [last night]. Everybody's worried about [the travel ban]. They have families that are stuck in the airports or can't come in. But the concert was so beautiful. There was so much effort [that] goes into doing their CDs, doing their music, getting together, practicing, rehearsing — so much effort and love goes into putting on these concerts. I thought, If only 10 people show up, it's worth it. Because it's such an incredible job that these people are doing.

We weren't sold out, but it was a great audience. They were there for the music. They were there to support us. And [performer] Fared Shafinury, he did a Bruce Springsteen cover last night. A mixture of traditional music with rock and it was unbelievable. 


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