Grass hoppers make Iran Sing

Giggling blondes squeal with delight as five tight-shirted men strut
forward on the stage, beautifully turned out and moving towards the
crowds in perfect unison.

UTN1- Nadeem,Akhlad, Art, Shand and Hassan

UTN1 hope to perform in their native Iraq again

They are the Iraqi boy band UTN1 – short for “Unknown to No-one” – and
they are in Geneva to perform at a peace festival, another step towards
their dreams of international stardom.

It is a long way from the band’s beginnings in Baghdad, in the final decade of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial rule.

Art and Shant – both Armenian Christians – founded the group in
1999. They were doing their military service at the time. Shant drove a
tank. Now he drives the band’s dance routines. Art made up lyrics as he
marched.

They put adverts in the Iraqi press to find other band members.

Hassan, Akhlad and Nadeem are all Shia Muslims. Not that Iraq’s
religious and sectarian divisions matter to the band. They see
themselves first and foremost as Iraqis – united by their love of
music.

The band members were drawn to Western music while their
country was under sanctions and Saddam Hussein was railing against
Western imperialism. “We loved anything that came from the West,” says
Art. “We wanted to put action in our lives, to start something new, to
break the routine.”

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