The Daily Tribune, January 25, 2002

Royal Oak composer strikes up band to assist Afghan women


Mark Gottlieb
Daily Tribune staff photo by Dick Hunt
Royal Oak resident and composer Mark Gottlieb (far left) is coordinating a Saturday, Feb. 2 concert at the Birmingham Unitarian Church to benefit the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. Other musicians joining Gottlieb are (from left) guitarist Robert Tye of Warren, Gottlieb's wife Cheryl Ashley, who won't perform but is lending her support, singer/songwriter Liz Larin of Birmingham, cellist Nadine Deleury of Birmingham and pianist Pauline Martin of West Bloomfield.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS - Mark Gottlieb, a Royal Oak resident and composer, recalls two years ago watching a documentary by British-Afghan documentarian Saira Shah, "Inside Afghanistan: Behind the Veil," which documented the treatment of Afghan women under the oppressive Taliban government.

He says he remembers with horror the images of Taliban men beating burqa-cloaked Afghan women with batons, grinning as they broke up a women's protest against the government.

"My first thought was to just send ... some money, but then with the events of Sept. 11, the threat to Afghan women seemed so immediate," Gottlieb said.

Then, on a recent flight to New Mexico, Gottlieb said he saw a small blurb in a Montreal newspaper about the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, an independent political and social organization of Afghan women fighting for political and social justice in their country.

It was then that he knew where to help.

Gottlieb, along with 12 other metro area musicians, will perform a benefit concert Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. at the Birmingham Unitarian Church, 38651 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills, to raise money for RAWA. Specifically, the money will go toward educational materials at schools for Afghan women and girls in refugee camps in Pakistan and, hopefully, those left behind in Afghanistan, Gottlieb said.

"It's a great difference between talking about helping and getting in front of a baton so that a woman's face isn't smashed," Gottlieb said. "How can I smash those men? Fundamentalism and extreme dogma is so divisive and it just plain (makes me angry)."

Gottlieb said that he is fortunate to have courted some of the more well-known Detroit area musicians - such as Stewart Francke and Liz Larin - and that all accepted his request to perform.

"I don't know that much about women in Afghanistan, but I was asked to do this by people I respect," said Francke, a Huntington Woods resident. "Sometimes the salient question is what do musicians know about this? It's our job to say it is happening to (these women). It could so easily happen to us."

Under the former Taliban government, Afghan women were denied the rights to education and work and were required to wear cloak-like burqas that hid everything but their eyes. Women also were restricted to their homes unless they were accompanied by a close male relative and could be subjected to a harsh beating if they disobeyed any of the rules laid down by the Taliban.

"These women want not only the right to work, they want the rights of women (in America)," Gottlieb said.

Each of the 12 musicians will play a 15-minute set. Other musicians include soprano Pamela Schiffer, who will perform a poem entitled "I'll Never Return." The poem was written by Meena, founder of RAWA.

Folk artist Jan Krist, concert pianist Pauline Martin, Brazilian soprano Mirna Rubim, bagpiper Kenton Smith, guitarist Robert Tye and members of the Michigan Opera Theater, including Velda Kelly, Elizabeth Rowin, Jacob Robbins and Nadine Deleury, also will perform.

"It's easy to do this concert. I'd just as soon not play and listen to the other musicians," Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb also will perform excerpts from his "Un Encuentro" and introduce a new string quartet that will accompany the performance of "I'll Never Return."

Singer/songwriter Francke said he hopes the concert will teach people about the Afghan culture despite so much anti-Afghan rhetoric that followed the September terrorist attacks.

"The more we know about these people, the more understanding we'll have about them," Francke said. "Even though (problems in Afghanistan) seem remote to people, any time you do something virtuous, it shows you care about the people around you."

The benefit concert for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan takes place 8 p.m. Feb. 2 at Birmingham Unitarian Church, 38651 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills. A donation of $15 per person is requested. For more information, contact Mark Gottlieb at 542-9426 or visit


Saturday, February 2, 2002 8:00PM - Benefit Concert for RAWA@ Birmigham Unitarian Church

Mark will be hosting a very special benefit concert for the Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women (RAWA). Proceeds will be used for educational materials at a number of schools for women and girls in refugee camps in Pakistan and hopefully soon, in Afganistan. A wide variety of musical styles will be heard Saturday night, February 2nd, 2002 at 8:00pm at the Birmingham Unitarian Church in Birmingham, Michigan.

Performers include Canadian concert pianist Pauline Martin, Brazilian soprano Mirna Rubim, folk artist Jan Krist, jazz guitarist Bob Tye, the exciting and unique rock-and-roll of Stewart Franke, vocalist Liz Larin, soprano Pamela Schiffer and a number of works of Mark Gottlieb, including excerpts from " Un Encuentro " and a new String Quartet entitled "I'll Never Return" which was composed to be performed during a reading of the poem of the same title by Meena, founder of RAWA who was executed by Islamic fundamentalists during a protest for the rights of Afghan women in 1988.

For more information on the RAWA concert, please call (248)542-9426 or email us For information on RAWA, visit their website at


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