really is a small world after all. When my dad was a teenager playing
soccer, he could not have predicted that he would have a daughter
interviewing his good friend and teammate Andy Madadian. Today he
is best know as Andy, is now an international pop star who has created
a fusion of sound that combines traditional Middle Eastern instruments
with the Western worlds drum and bass, guitar and modern technology.
From his early childhood in Teheran, Iran, he went on to live in Europe
and then the US, where he started a cover band that played pop music.
Today his albums have sold in the millions and hes played the
worlds most prestigious venues.
A humanitarian, Andy lends his support to a range of charitable causes
and recorded Stand by Me with Jon Bon Jovi to show solidarity
for the people of Iran. The musicians appearances in feature
films and TV include House of Sand and Fog with Sir Ben Kingsley and
Jennifer Connelly and The Shahs of Sunset. Andy is married to singer
/songwriter Shani Rigsbee with whom he frequently tours. Recently
ABILITYs Chet Cooper and Lia Limón Martirosyan
caught up with Andy.
Lia Limón Martirosyan: Hows it going?
Andy Madadian: Its been a busy year. The season started in late
March with the Persian New Year. We went to Tajikistan, which is between
China and Afghanistan. We also went to Uzbekistan and, of course,
we go to Armenia every year. Now were performing in the US and
well soon be going over to Dubai.
Martirosyan: Your music has a lot of different flavors, from Armenian
and Iranian to Arabic and African.
Andy: Im an Armenian born in Iran, so those flavors are in my
blood. But unlike the average Iranian Armenian, I grew up with a love
of American music, British music, Rod Stewart, Chicago, Ray Charles,
Deep Purple.When I came to the US, I went to college for nearly three
years and then went on tour with an American band, singing cover tunes.
When the Iranian revolution started in 1979, I came back to my musical
roots; the magic of my sound comes from fusing all these different
worlds: Western; rebellious pop music with lots of drums and bass;
Middle Eastern harmonics; and sweet melodies. Out of that, I forged
my own style and thank God people respond to it.
Cooper: How did your collaboration with Jon Bon Jovi on Stand
By Me come about?
Andy: For many years Ive been in touch with Don Was, who is
one of the best producers in the world. We have mutual respect for
each others work and weve been talking about collaborating
for a long time. When the Iranian election happened four years ago
and people werent happy with the results, there were riots in
the streets and Don called me and said, Why dont we do
a song with you and an American artist to show solidarity with the
people of Iran? I jumped at the idea. Don brought in Jon, which
was such a beautiful treat. Im a big fan of his.
It was a magical day because not only was he there, Richie Sambora
was, too and we went into John Shankss studio. Within a few
hours wed recorded the track. Everybody passing by said, Hey,
I want to play an instrument. Everyone wanted to do something
for the people of Iran. Musicians came in; Don played bass and the
next day the video was edited and released.
Martirosyan: Its incredible, over seven
million hits on YouTube.
Andy: And we never promoted the song; we never made any money off
of it because our intention was not commerce. The first day we thought:
This is going to be a show of support for the people of Iranoutside
of politics and all that. The song and video found a life of their
own. Jon and Richie were extremely nice and professional.
Cooper: His pronunciation of the words was impressive; youre
saying he learned and recorded it in just one session?
Andy: On the spot.
Andy: We didnt preplan it. I called my lyricist, Paksima Zakipour
and she wrote the lyrics and phoned them in. Jon learned to sing in
Farsi. He did such a great job. Iranians really love his Farsi accent.
Cooper: So theres an accent? I guess its like Americans
listening to someone with a British accent?
Andy: My wife, Shani,
is American and she speaks Farsi; the American Farsi accent is very
Cooper: Tell us about Shani and your experience with cancer.
Andy: Shes an extremely talented singer, songwriter and actresswell
trained in all three. Shes been in the music business all of
her life and shes had hits in both English and Farsi. Around
1992, we started working together, began touring everywhere in the
world and then, suddenly, she was sick. We found out that she had
ovarian cancer; she had a hysterectomy at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
and since then shes been doing unbelievably great. We expect
that to continue for another hundred years.
Martirosyan: You caught the cancer early?
Andy: Yes. Although for a while, she was diagnosed by different people
as having different things. Eventually, the doctors at Cedars-Sinai
said it was cancer and that she had to have immediate surgery. We
were lucky because it had not spread to other organs.
Martirosyan: What kind of symptoms did Shani have?
Andy: Mostly pain in the abdomen.
Cooper: Did she have to undergo radiation or chemotherapy?
Andy: No. We had a great doctor and afterwards she was as healthy
as can be. This is why I look at the glass as being half full, because
it could have been worse.
Martirosyan: Is that why youre associated with some of the charities
you work with today?
Andy: Even before Shanis cancer we were involved with charities,
I come from a poor family and understand what it is to be poor, so
all the support weve been given, weve turned around and
given it back to the community. It doesnt matter if its
a Jewish fundraiser, if its a Democratic or Republican fundraiser,
if its for children. As long as its helping somebody,
we do it.
Martirosyan: Tell us about meeting the Dalai Lama during the One
Andy: That took place at Syracuse University last year and it went
really well. It was a treat meeting His Holiness up close and listening
to him. He took all the artists backstage for an hour and chatted.
Hes very funny, very positive. It was a great concert and experience.
We were amazed because weve always been fans of his. Followed
his career as much as we can and appreciate people like him who affirm
peace and love.
Cooper: I noticed that you both performed for the American Cancer
Societys Relay for Life. Do you and your wife work together
often, or do you mostly perform separately?
Andy: We do have totally different careers and, of course, Shanis
in the movie business as well as an actress and producer. But we like
to do things together as much as we can, like charity events, because
we believe in the same causes. Well be doing an event in Monte
Martirosyan: So how do we get a seat on that plane to Monte Carlo?
Andy: (laughs) You just tell me you want to go and Ill
create it for you.
Martirosyan: Armenian style.
Andy: Yes, there you go!
Cooper: You also did a collaboration where you sang in both Farsi
Andy: Yes, that was also a historical moment. I did a song with a
Raghed Alama who is probably one of the top three artists in the Arab
world. We wrote and recorded it together; it was a number one hit
there. A Persian and an Arab artist had not sung together that I know
of, so that was interesting.
Coming from a soccer players background, I like teamwork. Ive
done a lot of duets with Armenian artistspeople who were my
idols growing up. I did a duet with Algerian and Egyptian musicians.
I have many, many Armenian collaborations and many, many Persian collaborations
and of course the song I did with Bon Jovi. I have an offer from Lionel
Richie and I cant wait for that to happen. I think the fusion
of my music with American
music is beautiful.
Cooper: I think what youre missing at this point is a collaboration
with Lia. When she came up with the idea of talking to you, I thought:
Why arent you two working together?
Andy: My brother likes Lias voice a lot. Lets find the
right song and record something. Im sure the Armenians are going
to go crazy for it.
Cooper: We had this incredible interview with a young man name Derek
Paravacini and his music professor, Adam Ockelford, visiting from
London (see page 18). Derek happens to be blind and have autism. The
two of them came to the States for a couple of days and performed
at the University of Irvine. We went to LA to meet with them at Carmens
studio he was in the band Tower of Power. Derek accompanied Lia on
the piano; they performed The Marriage of Figaro, and
it was really great.
Andy: Can I hear that?
Martirosyan: Were producing a
video of it.
Cooper: Its being edited.
Andy: Im anxious to hear it.
Cooper: Im going to Dubai in preparation for an international
conference called ABILITIESme
on disabilities later this year in Abu Dhabi. Theyre looking
for entertainment thats a mix of Arabic and English. Youve
already produced music in this area, so maybe we can get you invited......
in ABILITY Magazine
a Free Digi Issue and read the full magazine, and see all of the photos,
by clicking "Like"
from the Andy
Derek Paravicini Hes Got the Keys to the World
Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammed Al Qasimi
China Wang Kun Overcoming Obstacles
ANDY Music + Charity
= Millions of Fans
Team Quincy Jones Spreading Musics Roots
An Accessible Fun-der-land
Accountability Employing People with Disabilities
in the Andy Madadian Issue; Senator Harkin The Deaf President
Movemen; Ashley Fiolek From Pigging Out to Nutrition Classes;
Humor Part II of the Greek Geek Adventure; Candida
The Hands She Was Dealt; Derek Paravicini Hes
Got the Keys to the World; Geri Jewell Next Exit, Joy; Seizure
Dog She Nose When; Long Haul Paul What the Farkle?;
China Wang Kun Overcoming Obstacles for Art; Sharjahs
Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammed Al Qasimi; Accountability
Employing People with Disabilities; ANDY Music + Charity =
Millions of Fans; QJMC Team Quincy Jones Spreading Musics
Roots; Morgans Wonderland An Accessible Fun-der-land;
DRLC The Blame Game in Gun Control ; ABILITY's Crossword Puzzle;
Events and Conferences...