Manizha: I'm happy that I could make people at least a little bit happy. My main goal was to break taboos. It had been 23 years since a woman had appeared on the scene [here in Afghanistan and performed]. My goal was really to break this taboo.
RFE/RL: So you achieved your goal?
Manizha: I believe I did.
RFE/RL: How many people attended your show?
Manizha: There were many people. I had one concert in Kabul but the second concert, which was due to be held the next day, had to be cancelled because of security concerns.
RFE/RL: There were some unconfirmed reports that some conservative politicians had threatened to disrupt your concert. Were you actually threatened? Why didn't you have your second concert in Kabul?
Manizha: I had two concerts in one day but the next day I didn't have it because of security -- there were many people. I was told that it's better not to have the second concert. But in general it was good.
RFE/RL: How were you dressed and what songs did you sing?
Manizha: I had prepared 23 songs but unfortunately I wasn't able to sing all of them during the concert in Kabul. I think my dress matched the songs that I played. I wore a Tajik dress at one time and had some other dresses.
RFE/RL: You were dressed according to Afghan tradition [more conservatively]? Not like you would have on the Tajik scene [which is more liberal], right?
Manizha: That is correct, yes.
BACK IN THE GROOVE Decades of war and the Taliban's five-year ban on music took their toll on Afghan classical music. Musicians have been trying to resuscitate the art since the end of Taliban rule. But they face serious economic and artistic challenges -- including the threat of possible attack by Taliban fighters if they perform in provincial areas...(more)