Shahin Najafi is a musician, poet, singer, and social activist. He was born in 1980 to a middle-class family in Bandar-e Anzali, Iran, the youngest of eight children. He started writing poetry and learning to play classical and flamenco guitar in his teens. He turned to rock music, often performing as an underground musician.
As a young activist, Shahin's lyrics often conveyed strong and controversial messages about Iranian society. This attracted the disapproval of Iranian authorities and in 2004, the threat of persecution forced him to leave Iran.
In 2005, Shahin moved to Germany. Dubbed the "angry bard", he continued to write and perform music that was critical of conditions in Iran: poverty, oppression of women, homophobia, censorship, ideological dogmas, violence and cultural taboos. For a time, his career veered into rap and hip hop, bringing him fame among young fans back in Iran. These days, Shahin's music fuses rock, jazz, and blues with lyrics that demand change.
Shahin Najafi launched Sharr Music in 2010 to nurture Iranian underground and alternative music. The production company helps young artists collaborate, create and record music together.
In 2012, Shahin released his most controversial song: Naghi. In it, he exhorts a Shiite Imam named Naghi to help solve some of the problems plaguing Iran. But religious hardliners called the song an insult to Imams, a crime severely punished in Iran, and used Fatwas (religious edicts) to demand his death. Around the world, politicians, scholars, musicians, and devoted fans rose to Shahin’s defence, propelling him into the limelight as a proponent of free speech.
In 2013, Shahin Najafi's book Wenn Gott Schläft (When God is Asleep) was published. This collection of his original poems, lyrics and observations tell of his personal struggles with religion and provide searing insights into the true nature of Iranian society.
Shahin Najafi lives in Germany, and is still at odds with Iranian authorities. He remains a dedicated and defiant artist who refuses to be silenced, delivering his message to enthusiastic audiences wherever he tours. His fan base continues strong in Iran and has spread around the world.
In an industry that often rewards mindless entertainment, Shahin stands apart as a musician who brings both catchy riffs and revelations to every performance -- as he says, "a pitcher of cold water poured on a slumbering society".