Ashur Bet-Sargis Finds Solace in Dashta D’Nineveh
You can rake through the incredible statistics surrounding Ashur Bet-Sargis’ amazing career and still miss something. You can factor in the innumerable songs written, countless music composed, several trips made to athra (Iraq), admire his infamous alaha Ashur guitar, a “treasure chest” found in Ankawa.com’s people’s choice for best Assyrian music performer in the year 2006, the love songs, and a discography of albums and singles that navigate an emotional landscape that only few writer-performers have ever truly captured, and still not see what may be the key to this incredible musical legacy.
That the real story behind Ashur Bet-Sargis is unquestionably an Assyrian one.
Ashur has built a life out of doing precisely what people presume will not pay off. But I am certain that as a musician, if you brought him into a room and said there's one door that you absolutely cannot open, that's the door he would open. But just like the legends before him, in this highly-competitive industry, and with no land to truly nurture our music, Ashur knows what it's like to hear a door close, as well. Yet, he has survived the rollercoaster ride of the music business by refusing to let others define him. The Ashur Bet-Sargis story has always been about making that leap of faith with no net.
Now, as Bet-Sargis enters his fourth decade of making music, that metaphor is more than appropriate for his recently released album Dashta D’ Nineveh. Ashur has come to realize the new album reflects his indomitable curiosity and his refusal to ever be categorized. With Dashta D’ Nineveh, Ashur has once again gone for the surprise rather than the sure thing.
I say that making a new record is always a mystery. It is an affirmation into the unknown. Ashur has achieved his amazing run by relating simply and honestly to the people who now celebrate his records as quintessential moments in their lives. Dashta D’ Nineveh, if anything, is dedicated to the notion that while it is a mystery as to where such a gift comes from, there's always thankfulness for its arrival. Fans, take heart knowing that with this release Ashur was able to accomplish his mission and more.
The album features twelve all original songs. Here is where Ashur did things differently, going to where the vibe is strongest. With all fingers pointing at the Assyrian nation facing dissimilation from homeland Iraq and the national movement on the rise, placing Ashur in the reign of activism is timely and appropriate.
Ashur once told me in a radio interview "you can find out where it all comes from if you want, but don't ever go looking for it.” I've never forgotten that. I am certain that people have asked him his whole career where do the songs originate from? There is no formula, to my mind. But I readily admit that perhaps there is nothing quite as humbling as a microphone hanging in the middle of a room, while you are sitting in front of an audience pouring your heart into a statement through lyrics and music.
To me, this album is about a person who has been around for a long time and who has always been there for you. Like a friend who’s walked with you throughout your highs and adversaries, Ashur has grown in the hearts of many and his timeless voice has traveled from one continent to another, entering homes, touching lives, and piercing hearts ~ reminding us all that we are not but mortals. I could not miss the level of musical maturity that this amazing artist has achieved, taking nothing for granted. And to those lovers whose desires have been met by keen arrows, there is little hope of recovery after listening to the love tracks.
Ashur's rapport with his fans is legendary. For fans who have watched over him throughout the years, sometimes I think he writes songs thinking how they will react to them. Not only do they sing along to all his songs all over the world, but the first name basis he's earned in their hearts has been protocol when naming the first two Ashur’s that come to mind, alaha Ashur and Ashur Bet-Sargis are for sure two of the first.
Having recently completed sold-out benefit concerts for the Assyrian Aid Society in California, Ashur Bet-Sargis earned rave reviews and won over a legion of new fans, the new and upcoming Assyrian generation, in particular.
With Dashta D’ Nineveh recently released, Ashur Bet-Sargis will once again show the depth and breadth of his unique talents.
Submitted by Helen Talia
www.helentalia.com December 2008