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Andy Madadian, the Armenian Iranian singer and actor, got the 2,684th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Jan. 17.
For those not familiar with Andy’s raspy, soothing voice, he’s made more than a dozen albums and has loyal fans around the world. He’s not a household name in Los Angeles, where he has lived since 1979, but for Iranians, he’s a beloved icon.
In the grand scheme of things, the star is not a big deal. Even Donald Trump has one on the Walk of Fame.
And considering Iranians are fighting for their lives protesting against the regime that shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing 176 people, it’s almost thoughtless, silly and even unnecessary to celebrate a pop star receiving a bedazzled block of stone on a street where a homeless man once offered to take a selfie with me if I gave him weed.
But it’s not. In fact, this is the time we need these small victories of recognition for immigrant communities, in this case the very large population of Iranian expats in Los Angeles for whom Andy — who’s known only by his first name — is nearly as important a fixture as the cultural sites in Iran that Trump had threatened to attack just a couple of weeks ago.
We earnestly love this man the way Americans love Paul Rudd. He is ageless, timeless and a constant source of goodwill and just pure joy.
Whether he’s the best Iranian musician is arguable, as anything of an artistic nature usually is. But he’s the only one who’s managed to navigate the realm of pre-revolution Iran and modern diaspora life in the United States, being both a source of nostalgic comfort and a voice for social justice through his charity, Voices Out.
He’s old school and somehow new school, rocking a less amplified version of the same hairstyle he’s had since the 1980s.
In 2009, Andy, Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora joined forces to record a Persian-English version of “Stand by Me” in solidarity with the protesters during the pro-reform Green Movement in Iran.
This is what Andy has always been good at. He knows the value of his voice, and even more so when it’s joined with internationally beloved American musicians. Their record didn’t solve any crisis, but it helped those of us outside of Iran — as well as in Iran — cope, sending a message to our non-Iranian friends to say, “We’re in this together.”
With Iran making headlines again and Trump making threats one minute and then claiming to stand with the Iranian people the next, life can get confusing for Iranians living abroad. Most immigrants, no matter how long they’ve lived in their “new” country, can feel sort of a low-grade identity crisis when every newspaper in the world is covering some atrocity happening in their home country.
So Andy receiving a star on the Walk of Fame, an iconic LA institution, is important for reasons that are not obvious to most. When we see ourselves represented in any way, it’s a victory. As any immigrant knows, when one of us gets recognition, we like to huddle in and bask in what is a shared glory.
Orly Minazad is a freelance writer and editor who was born in Tehran, Iran.