This song is dedicated in the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
In this song, Kraddy and I sampled my great grandmother’s voice (which was recorded over 6 decades ago) who was a direct survivor of this horrific event. Below is a short interview about my lineage and what this song means to me as an Armenian/American.
"Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"
Many readers may ask, ‘What was Hitler talking about?’ The Armenian Genocide, as Hitler implied, is commonly unknown to the general population of the world. However, it’s estimated that around 1.5 - 2 million Armenians were murdered, sent on death marches, massacred, raped and driven out from their homes in what is now common day Turkey. The Armenians were looked down upon as being the first Christians in the world, primarily surrounded by Muslims who did not accept their way of life. The opportunity arouse for the genocide to take place in 1915 at the onset of World War I, impacting generations of Armenians up to this day. The memories of pain, loss, and suffering are now commemorated every year on April 24th. Armenians world wide come out to march for the recognition of this atrocity and in the memories of their ancestors.
When the Young Turk Movement came to invade, most Armenians fled their homes, driven to any land that would take them in. In the case of Tigran Mimosa’s lineage, most of his family was dispersed or killed in the chaos. The lucky ones sought refuge in the Soviet Union, Americas, Europe and anywhere else that would take them in. His mother, Narine Haroutunyan, told me that when she was a child, she would ask her grandmother Elena, “Why did you decide to run that way (to the Soviet Union),” instead of escaping on an American ship.
Her grandmother would say, “I was a child. My mom was running, and I was with her.”
There was no choice involved. Tigran’s great-great grandmother Elena was 6 years old, when her mother and her were forced to flee after witnessing the public beheading of her father. “Everyone was running to different places – some ran to the churches, and they stayed there” Narine told me. In most cases, when found, the invaders would burn down the churches, and sometimes with everyone in it.
However, Elena’s mother suddenly died as soon as they found shelter, leaving her to fend for herself from the age of 6. Elena carried on with her memories of white horses, napoleon coins, and gold belts: emblems of their former wealth that she would never know again in waking reality. Narine told me that her grandmother would share these memories, and sing the song “Dle Yaman,” which was a hallmark of sorts for the Armenian Genocide. “Dle Yaman” was originally a love song, but Narine called it “a tragedy,” explaining that the lyrics are “a mix of Turkish and Armenian words.” Thus, Elena had the fabric of this song woven into her being; her whole life was a reaction to the pain of her early childhood memories, as shown by how she recounted the stories of her former life to her granddaughter. When Elena became ill and had a stroke, which left her with Alzheimer's. Narine told me, “She didn’t recognize us anymore. But when we started singing this song, she started to sing it with us.” “Dle Yaman” became a trigger to bring her grandmother back to this reality. Sometimes Narine would join her in singing, but Elena would say to her, “Don’t sing that song. You are too young to know that kind of sadness.”
Unbeknownst to Elena, the family recorded their grandmother’s singing from behind a couch. Later on over the next few decades Narine passed the recording to Tigran, who’s reiteration of this haunting song is another way to pay respect to the Armenian Genocide and spread awareness of an ‘annihilation’ that even Hitler acknowledged has historically been swept under the rug.
And suddenly, it becomes apparent that this song is a way to share history, to carry a thread of lineage, to remember and learn from the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide, because after all..
“Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.”
― Edmund Burke
released April 21, 2016
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