ASHUR BETSARGIS







Rarely has music been defined by one man, or a genre authenticated by a single person’s ideology.  An international icon that has remained unparalleled for over thirty years, Ashur Bet-Sargis has done both, redefined music sex app and reinvented a genre.  Still yet, fans from all over the world absolutely believe that Ashur has just begun to scratch the surface.

From an early age, he was a beacon to have among family and friends.  An only son to his parents, Ashur has shared a close relationship with his sisters, Nahrain and Libna, who have fond memories of their childhood together.

Looking back, either it all seems like it was such a long time ago, or it all happened at the blink of an eye.  At the adolescent age of fourteen, Ashur found a just fuck buddies app cause among his Assyrian community, always wanting to take on more responsibilities.  During his years at “Challish,” a Christian youth organization, his involvement introduced the young talent to Assyrian folklore music, where Ashur would soon find his niche.




A teenager whose High School years were filled with school activities and sports, Ashur also spent time at the house of worship, where outside of his classroom he made the pipe organ his first instrument, in an exchange for cleaning the church.  “I could not wait to get my feet on the pedals.  It was a very old instrument and it needed to be filled up with air before the thing made a sound,” recalls Ashur.

A musical heir to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, and Matt Monroe, Ashur was first introduced to the Western music through the encouragement of his family.  Then in the following years as he began to perform at local Assyrian festivities, Ashur met his first musical breakthrough during fuck buddy tonight his years as a keyboard player at his church when he was met by an irresistible offer from a local Assyrian music band “Ankidu,” to join them as their guitar player.
Meanwhile, everywhere else in the world, music was changing.  While America watched Elvis shake his hips to Rock n Roll tunes, the Beatles were taking the world by storm.  Ashur wanted to be a part of this movement, but Iraq at the time like other Middle-Eastern countries, was not hosting to Ashur’s Western musical dreams anytime soon.  And thus, in addition to the rising political turmoil in Iraq, twenty year-old Ashur left Iraq in 1969, joining masses of immigrants who were pushed into exodus from their homeland, either through political or religious persecution.





Arriving in the new world in the fall of 1970, Ashur made Chicago his new home.  And as the word of his arrival quickly spread, his aspirations began to look up.  He began to tour the United States, from one coast to another, as did his revolutionary lyrics, entering every home in Diaspora, calling for a national awakening among the Assyrians in reminiscence of their forgotten homeland.

This was also the precise time during which Ashur met his hero at the time, the late William Daniel, a gifted poet, writer and musician. William Daniel was not only to become an inspiration to the young Ashur, but as the two became more acquainted, Ashur was able to immerse much deeper into his music as he learned how to be in touch with his compassionate side.  Ashur recalls William Daniel telling him “you can contribute much more to the greatness of music if you make one worthwhile song instead of ten fillers here and there.”

The year was 1971 when Ashur, along with four other musicians, established the music group “East Bird Band,” soon releasing Ashur’s first album, making Ben Malko’s “Bet Nahrain” Ashur’s first hit.  The success of his first album was followed by one successful event after another, a sold-out show on the eve of 1973 in Los Angeles, which Ashur deservedly enjoyed and called Los Angeles his new home.  The streak of luck continued as Ashur remained busy for the next eleven years, performing at numerous social events, weddings, and at the reputable Assyrian Conventions.  


In 1976, Ashur became the first Assyrian singer to be invited by the Assyrian community from overseas.  The Assyrian community loved him and offered a warm reception upon his arrival in Australia.  Hundreds packed the airport to welcome Ashur to his “land down under” Australian tour.

His next stop was Iran, a country which once housed the second largest Assyrian population, following Iraq, and here Ashur was already a star by the time he arrived to take the stage at Eveen Hotel in Tehran.  “Those days I traveled with my albums to pass on to my fans as gifts.  During this particular trip, I had taken a total of twenty albums with me, but much to my surprise they were all auctioned off within minutes and the proceeds donated back to me as a token of appreciation.  That was a very sentimental gesture for me,” recalls Ashur.

Reflecting on great memories from his Australia and Iranian tours, Ashur was determined to produce yet another hit album upon arriving back home in Los Angeles.  In 1978, he released “Ancient Assyria” containing the remix of “Tanelee Lay Lay,” “Yalikhto Smouqta o' Zardeh,” and “Gupta D’Anweh.”  “This album was a great hit and my fans still tell me it was one of my best albums, and I think it was, due to the selection of the songs and music,” says Ashur.


During his release of the hit “Shaikhani” in 1982, Ashur continued to tour the world.  But things came to a halt soon thereafter.  Ashur hit what is commonly known as an “artist’s block” as his personal life required more attention at the time.  One major move for Ashur was relocating to the state of Michigan and reducing his stage performances.  This was indeed a tumultuous time in Ashur’s life.  “Reflecting on this now, the artist in me felt trapped.  I was hurting inside and longing to sing and produce music once again, yet I had an obligation to be there for my family,” says the artist.

In 1988, Ashur moved back to California, this time settling in Modesto. He was ready to perform, and had once again contracted to tour Australia.  After eight successful performances, his inspiration rendered the production of an all-hit album “Powkha D’Sitwa,” in an incredible ensemble of songs, “Hala Leet,” “Sara D’Mata,” and “Danateh Sreekheh.”  As such, this album prompted a series of overseas trips and Ashur was in worldwide demand wherever Assyrians domiciled, from the United States to Canada, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Holland, France and England.

As Ashur continued to perform for the next few years, he could sense the shift of energy that was taking place within him.  He felt his lyrics and music slowly pulling a heavier cape onto their own.  Realistically, though, he was reaching the maturity that was expected, firstly of himself, then by his fans, everywhere.  Most certainly, he slowed down producing new music as he wanted to delve into his inner-self in order to brand his lyrics with a just cause to symbolize the much-deserved attention of the armed struggle, (Durara M”Zayna, Assyrian), of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ZOWAA), an Assyrian national uprise that was taking place in Iraq.  His follow-up album, “Proukh Rama Ya Nishra,” in 1992 become a well-known Nationalistic medley, with contributions to “Dwekh Nawsheh D’Zowaa,” a song that has set the precedence for many recording artists to follow.





 His flawless music resulted in the release of “Nora Aldeyana” in 1995, an album that contained six all-original tracks, and again, each scored high marks among his anticipating audience.  Songs like “Maliktee Tleeta,” “Nora Aldeyana,” “Khabour,” and “Taraa D’Khoulmanee” have all been revisited by fans everywhere since their original release in 1995.

 One year later in 1996, Ashur released yet another album “Ana Lewin Min Daha Dounyeh.”  Nothing short of what Ashur is well-known for, perfectionism.  The album found its way into the hearts of his fans and kept Ashur on top of the Assyrian music charts once again.  The humble Ashur attributes the success of this album to the talent and composition of David Bet-Samo, a young and talented Assyrian musician.  “Throughout the years, I have had the privilege of working with many great musicians and composers, but David Bet-Samo has always been very instrumental in contributing to some of my greatest work,” says Ashur of David Bet-Samo, who has composed melodies for the songs “Ana Lewin Min Daha Dounyeh,” Shwotee,” “Nora Aldeyana,” and Sara D’Mata.” The Manifestation of an Ashurian Soul, hence “Quyama” ~ An acquaintance recalls, “while we were sitting in my apartment one night, Ashur said to me, “I want to go back to the motherland.  I have been singing for so many years now and I have been welcomed on almost every foreign soil and praised for my work from all over the world, but I long to connect my lyrics and my music with the soil that is mine and the soil that I am a part of.  I still do not know what it would feel like to sing in the land that I have been singing about for over thirty years.  I am not sure how my thoughts or music will be impacted if I ever get to stand on the edge of the Euphrates and watch the running water take me with it.  I have been imagining this all of my life and I would like to face that moment,”” recalls a friend of Ashur.



The friend notes, “That night when Ashur spoke of Bet Nahrain, it did not take much for anyone to see the glisten in his eyes. Not long after that I was driving Ashur to the airport for his departure to Iraq”.

In April 1997, Ashur arrived at the Iraqi-Turkish borders where he was greeted by members of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ZOWAA), and later escorted to the city of Nohadra, (Dohuk).  From his time in Iraq, Ashur says “I am still unsure of how I felt when I first stepped on my birth soil.  I think it was a dream that I have yet to awaken from.  I have often struggled with my feelings to write about those particular moments of my experiences in a meaningful context, and what would make sense of it all.  I felt a surge of different emotions ~ good, bad, free, lost, happy, sad. . . all at the same time.  But most of all, I had this novel feeling that I have arrived at my home, at last.” During his visit to Northern Iraq, Ashur visited almost every village, town, and city.  He was interviewed by local radio and television stations, and invited to entertain numerous concerts, each crowded with thousands of adoring fans.  “My nation had come all the way from Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk to meet me, yet, the honor was mine.  During the day I visited the Assyrian schools and met the students who studied the Assyrian language.   Finally, I stood at the banks of the ancient Euphrates river, now a territory infested with landmines,” says Ashur.


           

 
“Upon his return from Iraq, I witnessed a transformed man in Ashur, as he shared his experiences from his trip with me,” recalls a friend.  In the meantime, Ashur completely withdrew from the public eye as an entertainer, and instead he focused on what he considers his first love, writing music and poetry.  Ashur was rediscovering himself, as if in search of a grand salvation and a greater foundation.”  Meanwhile, Ashur answered the endless requests from his fans about his earlier recordings from the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s.  In 1999, he released the album “Immortal Memories,” all hand-picked and newly performed by Ashur himself.  The album was well received by his fans, as thousands of copies made their way into Assyrian homes across the globe.

 In January of 2005, Ashur decided it was time once again to visit his motherland as he made another trip back to Iraq.  That trip would inspire Ashur to visit his homeland every year to share in the Aketo festivities for Kha'b Nissan.  

Now, as Ashur enters his fourth decade of making music, that metaphor is more than appropriate for his recently released album in 2009 titled “Dashta it Nineveh”.  Ashur has come to realize the new album reflects his indomitable curiosity and his refusal to ever be categorized. With Dashta D’ Nineveh, Ashur has once again gone for the surprise rather than the sure thing. Featuring twelve all original songs, Ashur did things differently, going to where the vibe is strongest. With all fingers pointing at the Assyrian nation facing dissimilation from homeland Iraq and the national movement on the rise, placing Ashur in the reign of activism is timely and appropriate.  Ashur had poured his heart and soul into this new album that would unsurprisingly be named as the 2008 Best Album of the Year by Qeenatha.com and Ashur was recently presented with the 2009 Best Lifetime Award at the first annual Syriac Music Awards.   Like a friend who’s walked with you throughout your highs and adversaries, Ashur has grown in the hearts of many and his timeless voice has traveled from one continent to another, entering homes, touching lives, piercing hearts and reminding us all that we are not but mortals. And to those lovers whose desires have been met by keen arrows, there is little hope of recovery after listening to the love tracks. Currently working on his new album to be released in 2013, Ashur will once again show us the depth of his unique talents. 

BY:  Helen Talia