FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Shout Your Prayers! Award-Winning Seattle Band Combines Iraqi Jewish Prayer with Original Rock, Invoking the Medicinal Power of Song and Story.
On July 16, Iraqis in Pajamas releases their second album, Pijamama, with searingly honest lyrics and starkly contrasting music that explore how to heal the wounds of inter-generational trauma.
Seattle, WA – With an album cover featuring “the original Iraqi in pajamas” – Abraham Khazzoom, grandfather of lead singer Loolwa Khazzoom – Pijamama is an EP featuring three songs: “Mahalnu” references the ancient Jewish practice of asking forgiveness before Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year – posing the question of what happens when someone asks for forgiveness, without changing behavior, especially in the case of violence. Prayerful vocals alternate with chaotic guitar riffs and aggressive rhythm, as Khazzoom asks, “What is the difference between forgiveness of you and erasure of me?”
“The Fixer” is prayer-through-declaration, a refusal to fall into the pattern of compensating for someone else’s inability or unwillingness to do the work of a relationship. The chorus, ashir shir hadash (I will sing a new song) comes from Ezer Musarai, an Iraqi Jewish song for the holiday of Purim. Khazzoom felt uplifted while singing it as a child, envisioning the expansiveness of possibility that emerges, when we boldly choose a new path forward.
“Fireball” expresses the anguish of caregiving for a loved one, despite emotional violence: “You can be downright vicious/Throwing a fireball/At the one who cares most about you/The one who is always there for you…” With soft vocals, gripping harmonies, and a driving duet between keys and guitar, the song elicits the complexity and conflict of feelings that inspired the song’s creation.
The album title, Pijamama (Hebrew for “pajama”) is a playful inversion of the historically derogatory stereotype of Iraqi Jews in Israel – which was also the impetus for the band’s name, Iraqis in Pajamas. It features Khazzoom on vocals and bass, Robbie Morsehead on drums, Cali Hackmann on keyboard and backup vocals, and Alden Hackmann on guitar. The melody and lyrics for all three songs were written by Khazzoom.
The album is being released in honor of Khazzoom’s mother and best friend, EJ, who transitioned to the next life on July 16, 2019, who encouraged Khazzoom to pursue her music, and who, together with Khazzoom, demonstrated the ability to radically transform ourselves and our relationships – and to stop the crushing boulder of inter-generational trauma – when are willing to face and go through the darkness together.
Loolwa is a force of nature. It’s no surprise to us that…her courageous heart expresses itself so eloquently in the hurricane of her gritty music. – Deva Premal & Miten, Billboard chart-topping musicians
Loolwa Khazzoom is a brilliant lyricist and a dedicated artist, with the ability to teach through her art. Loolwa and her band, Iraqis in Pajamas, bring deeply personal truth through song and lyric and make us think through our own human reaction, through their profound and often cathartic performances. We need more of this! We need more art that makes us think in this turbulent world. Loolwa is the pearl in the oyster of a nation in great need of more awareness and enlightened thinking. – Lara Lavi,Grammy Award-winning musician
Hearing Loolwa Khazzoom live is like being struck by a thunderbolt. Her music will crack you open and get under your skin in the best way. Her lyrics are raw and visceral, combining prayer with deeply personal truth…Her music will have you reevaluating what it means to be human. It’s both ancient and modern— holding a startling tension between the sacred and the beautiful chaos of being alive. – Katie Rudman, event producer
Iraqis in Pajamas! Their live performance emotes an unencumbered power of grief, rage, and delight thru song and storytelling, power chords and a capella nusach (Jewish melodic chants). Hear them, and you will know the pulse of modernity entangled with centuries-past. – Stefanie Brendler, event producer
About Iraqis in Pajamas
In turn vulnerable and angry, haunting and inspiring, award-winning Seattle band Iraqis in Pajamas (IraqisInPajamas.com) disarms audiences, opening them to deep contemplation about trauma, healing, and transformation. With songs in English, Judeo-Arabic, and Hebrew, the band has a unique sound – an innovative blend of ancient Iraqi Jewish prayers, alternative rock, and personal storytelling about topics as varied as cancer, domestic violence, racism, mental illness, street harassment, family caregiving, and national exile.
Khazzoom has had a meandering career as an educator, writer, health coach, and more, all with the central organizing principle of individual and collective healing. Her work has been featured in top media including The New York Times and Rolling Stone; she has presented at leading venues including Harvard University and the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and she has published two books, taught throughout the Ivy League and at universities nationwide – The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage and Consequence: Beyond Resisting Rape. Ultimately ditching her power suit and power point in favor of combat boots and cat glasses, Khazzoom now offers bold songwriting as the catalyst for deep and heart-centered conversation.