Shajarian is the undisputed master of Persian traditional (classical) singing. He is regarded as a national treasure by both musicians and music lovers. His singing is technically flawless, powerful, and strongly emotional. In music of Iran, traditional singing is the most difficult art to master. Shajarian is the embodiment of the perfect singer and a major source of inspiration.
Born in 1940 in the city of Mash'had in northeastern Iran, Mohammad Reza Shajarian began singing spiritual songs at the age five under the supervision of his father. Only a few years later his precocious talent was to be renowned throughout the town of Mash'had. In spite of his religious upbringing, at the age of twelve he was familiarizing himself with the traditional song repertoire and the first piece he was to sing was the Gham-Angiz Goosheh of Dashti. He was also interested at the same time in popular music from Khorasan and the other regions of Iran.His focus at first was on the local folk music of his native province, Khorasan, but later at the age of twelve he studied the traditional repertoire, the Radif.
After college, he became a schoolteacher and was to find himself at much greater liberty to study all forms of traditional music and gradually relinquish religious singing. What follows is a resume of the major landmarks in Mohammad Reza Shajarian's artistic career. On the arrival in Teheran he met Ahmad Ebadi, the great Setar master who is today sole heir to the musical tradition upheld by his family. His meeting of the late Esmail Mehrtash was to initiate him in the fine nuances of traditional singing, in popular melodies and in artistic technique.
Shajarian was deeply inspired by the late master vocalist Gholam Hossein Banan and adopted his style of singing for several years. An important event in his life was his productive encounter with the great master Abdollah Khan Davami, who was to impart to him the most ancient Tasnifs (songs) and the authentic version of the Radif which had been passed onto him by the greatest masters of the previous century.