One of the new honors the Grammy Awards will introduce at their next ceremony is Song for Social Change – a special merit award that “recognizes creators of message-driven music that addresses the social issues of our time and has the potential for positive global change”. impact.”
Although the honor is “organized by a blue ribbon committee”, there is no doubt that the number of submissions will have an impact – and according to the Recording Academy, 95,000 of the 115,000 submissions received were for Iranian musician Shervin’s song. Hajipour, “Baraye”, a protest song about 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after being arrested and beaten by Iran’s so-called morality police for not wearing proper headgear, in accordance with the country’s Islamic law.
The country has been wracked with protests – including women burning their hijabs or headdresses in front of police – in the weeks after her death was published, despite government efforts to quell them and attempts at media coverage.
The lyrics to “Baraye” are taken entirely from messages Iranians have posted online regarding the reasons for their protest: Each begins with the word baraye, which means “For…” or “Because of…” in Farsi. In the song, Hajipour sings lyrics such as “To dance in the streets, to hug loved ones” and “For women, life, freedom”, which crowds often changed during protests following the death of ‘Amin.
Hajipour posted the song online late last month and it quickly went viral, racking up millions of views and being sung by schoolgirls in Iran, shouted out of car windows in Tehran and played at protests in solidarity with United States and Europe, according to the Guardian.
It is no surprise that he was arrested a few days later, although last week a state prosecutor told state news agency IRNA that Hajipour had been released on bail “in order to that his case can go through the legal process”.
Sources close to Hajipour told the Guardian that the singer was forced to delete the song from Instagram upon his arrest. It has since been recorded as having been written by someone else, causing copyright infringement issues that led to its removal by several streaming platforms, although it has already been shared widely and continues to be uploaded by users on YouTube.
Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said: “The Academy is deeply moved by the overwhelming volume of submissions for Shervin Hajipour’s ‘Baraye’ (‘For the Love of’) for our new Special Award of merit, best song for social change. While we can’t predict who might win the award, we are honored to know that the Academy is a platform for people to show their support for the idea that music is a powerful catalyst for change. The Academy strongly supports freedom of expression and art created to empower communities in need. Because music serves the world and the Recording Academy exists to serve music.
On September 13, Amini was traveling with her family to visit relatives when she was arrested for failing to follow the country’s strict rules on women’s dress. Witnesses reported that Amini was beaten in the police van – which police denied – taken to hospital in a coma and died two days later. An Iranian coroner claimed she died of pre-existing conditions and not injuries she received at the hands of police.