BURQA BLUES

The first female band in Afghanistan only recorded one song.

IND  In Afghanistan girls aren’t supposed to play music or sing songs. But 25-year-old Nargiz didn’t care. She started the Burka Band, the first Afghan girl band ever.

Nargiz started the Burka Band when she met a German music producer in Kabul in late 2002. The producer was teaching Afghans to play modern music, and Nargiz learned to play the drums. One day she wondered why all the burkas in Kabul were blue, and together with two friends she wrote the song “Burka Blue” which is about burkas and the way you feel when you wear them. The song was recorded in Kabul with help from the German producers. The band would rehearse behind locked doors, so nobody would find out that the women were playing music. The burka also helped hide who the bandmembers really were.

Of course it was a joke to sing in the burkas, but it was also necessary to wear them. If people in Afghanistan knew who the members of the Burka Band were, we could be attacked or killed because there are still a lot of religious fanatics here, says Nargiz, who hasn’t told any of her friends that she has played in the Burka Band.

In 2003 the German record label Ata Tak released the song in Germany and the song became a hit in German clubs after it had been remixed by a german DJ.

The Burka Band has never performed in Afghanistan and at the moment the band is not active. During the Taliban regime music was totally forbidden, and women were not allowed to work. To sing in public could carry a death sentence. (Today the country is slowly being returned to Taliban rule despite the efforts of the coalition forces because of Obama’s willingness to negotiate with the Taliban) There is no market in Afghanistan for the Burka Band’s music.

Nargiz says, “I’d like to play again, but right now it is not possible. Last year there was a big bomb at a concert here in Kabul , and lots of people are still against female singers because the religious leaders condemn it.” Today the only place to see the Burka Band is on the video

Life behind a sewer grate.