New album by Daxil Ossman revives Yezidi cultural music

The “Shingal Bazhar Û Ganda” (which means “Sinjar has cities and villages) album was released by the Yezidi singer Daxil Ossman last January. It is available on YouTube, and was Ossman’s first album since 2002.

Daxil Ossman is one of the oldest Yezidi singers. He sings specifically for wedding parties, and is very popular and well-known in the Sinjar community and among Yezidis everywhere. He has previously released several other albums and video clips, but the folk songs in this album made him a star this year in the Yezidi community.

The album consists of 8 folk songs, all of which have the lyrics and melodies of the pure Yezidi folk and cultural music, and in the very pure Kurmanji language.

The Yezidi community had been enthusiastically waiting for the release of this album.   It brought up and revived the Yezidi cultural music that had also been revived by another Yezidi singer, Eido Koti, who is considered the father of Yezidi cultural songs. However, this genre of songs, however, was not created by Eido Koti — he renewed it in the 1960s and 70s, creating  a school for the next generation to pass it down.

This album gave birth to a remarkable event in the Yezidi community in which all the people, including children, immediately started to memorize the songs. The lyrics and melodies are all focusing on Sinjar’s people, and the beautiful landscape of the mountain and villages of Sinjar. While it was something people were already familiar with, these songs gave it a new rhythmic shape, with  melodies that made it easy for people to memorize. For example, he says: “The beauty of Sinjar is Solagh, Karsi, and Barr,” which are the main places that Yezidi visit for vacations during spring and summer, for the rivers and nature in these places.

Besides reviving the Yezidi traditional music, this album was also a way of  preserving Yezidi cultural identity in Sinjar, particularly because it was in their original language. According to Daxil Ossman: “I released this album in the Kurmanji language because I saw that after the displacement of Yezidi from Sinjar to Kurdistan, and their migratation to Europe, they began little by little to forget their original language. This was a threat for the elimination of our cultural identity as well. The language is almost the only thing that remained from our culture, and it is being mixed up with Kurdish, Arabic, English, German, ….. etc., so I thought this might be the best way to bring back our original lyrics again and make people remember their language.”

On the other hand, Ossman claimed that these songs are from his own words and melodies. But in fact, these melodies are the base of the Yezidi traditional music, and he is not the one that created them. 

In an interview before releasing his album, he said that “we can eat the bread of anyone, and we do not talk about it,” which means that “as singers we have to give everyone who contributed to the song their right.” But he did not do that himself. He  claimed ownership of these folk melodies and lyrics, rather than giving credit to the ones who created them.

Even though the Yezidi community embraced all the songs with a big heart, they were not satisfied with Ossman’s claim, and a young Yezidi man argued that  “no one knows who made these melodies, as they are from very ancient times. But Edo Koti was the one who revived them, and these types of songs are mainly used in parties and weddings.”