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 about the reality of what it means to be a woman living in the world. 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.
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.
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.
I encountered Loolwa’s important work during a crucial time in my life. Growing up a Persian Jew in Los Angeles, I struggled with reconciling my ancient heritage and cultural norms with my daily life as a contemporary American girl. Loolwa’s work provided excellent guidance and a framework for the complexity surrounding the history of my identity and how it fits into our modern world. She has an absolutely unparalleled dedication to empowering voices often brushed aside by history, and Iraqis in Pajamas is another perfect example of how she eloquently translates identity and culture into art. We need this kind of storytelling, not only to remind us of our past, but also to push us into the future.
The Flying Camel, Loolwa Khazzoom’s anthology on Middle Eastern and North African Jewish women, is a fantastic resource for exploring the intersections of multiple identities. Now Loolwa’s band, Iraqis in Pajamas, brings this learning to life, with music to help heal both personal pain and rifts between communities that are so often considered separate. Loolwa’s blend of Iraqi Jewish melodies, punk rock, and audience participation opens so many important conversations: about the diversity within Jewish communities, about violence against women, and about personal activism, to name a few. We enjoyed Loolwa’s session very much, and so will you.
When I was introduced to Iraqis in Pajamas music, I was profoundly moved, not only by the band’s talent, but by the messages they share. Their songs somehow manage to be deeply personal, but also universal. Hearing their songs and lyrics gives you an instant kinship and connection with the band, because you hear the lyrics and feel completely understood. The band takes very real experiences and translates them into music that sticks with you long after the song is over.
Iraqis in Pajamas music is powerful, and Loolwa’s voice is beautiful.