Aref Arefkia was born in Tehran, Iran on August 10, 1941 and was one of the first Iranian pop artists of his time. Aref’s introduction to music came in part by his azari mother and by listening to Radio Baku as a child. Radio Baku played exceptional azari and western music as well as all the famous European operas.
At a time when the only kind of popular music was in "Tasnif" style, Aref introduced Western melodies with romantic lyrics to Iran in the 1960's. Aref was one of the pioneers of this trend. This style was quite popular among the youth, so much that at the age of 21 he was invited to appeare and sing on the Iranian National Television.
Aref's first TV appearance was with an Assyrian-Iranian girl named "Narmela". The two performed many duets, most notably "Haft Asemoon". Aref later sang in other duets with Pooran, Elaheh, Hayedeh, Delkash and also Ramesh. Aref and Hayedeh's song "Vaghti to hasti, asemoon por az noore" is one of the most beautiful songs left from that period.
His first hit was "Daryacheye Noor" which is still popular among all the Iranians. Aref was also a very popular singer for movie soundtracks. His songs were heard on numerous Iranian films of the 1960's & early 1970's among which "Gholam Gandarm" and "Soltan-e Ghalbha" are the most famous. He also appeared in six different musical films.
His success continued well into the mid 1970's. This is evident when one looks at the pop magazines of the time. In a survey conducted by Javanan Magazine Aref and Googoosh were both chosen as "Most Famous Pop Icon" of the year, 7 years in a row. Zan-e Rooz magazine also chose Aref as the MAN OF THE YEAR in which Aref among many other politicians, singers and actors (basically all famous men of Iran except Shah) were nominated.
Aref received many awards, one of which was granted to him by the Shah himself. Aref received the Highest Cultural Imperial Medallion from the Shah for singing at the Asian Games of 1974 in Iran. In this concert with Tehran's Philharmonic Orchestra, Aref sang in front of 100,000 Iranians and in the presence of many International state officials and dignitaries. Aref performed his first concert out of Iran in New York City in Madison Square to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the American Independence.
Although the majority of his songs were of a more romantic nature, Aref’s collaborations with lyricist Iraj Janati Ataie did run Aref into problems with censorship. A few of his songs were not released and others had to be changed to get a distribution permit from the government. Some of those songs were "Hame Ja Gham", "Hizom-e Nime Nime" and "Prandey-e Mohajer" all of which had indirect political and social messages.
Aref and his family left Iran in 1979, following the Islamic revolution. He first lived in London for a period of 3 years, then moved to Los Angeles. Aref has three daughters and one son.
In recent years Aref has become active in other areas of Iranian music including traditional, classical, as well as the Los Angeles produced Iranian pop music. In 1996 with the help of his wife, Aref decided to start his own music distribution company, Rfaye, which has released most of his albums as well as other legendary compilations of Hayideh, Maziar, and other distinguished Iranian singers and musicians.
Aref recalls to have sung up to 500 songs to this date. In Los Angeles he produced many albums among which "Mah va Palang", "Roozegar Gharibist Nazanin", "Ayineh dar Ayineh" and another album, which is called Soltan-e Ghalbha has eleven of Aref's old hits that were all re-mastered.
Some of those songs are: "Hame Chim Yaar", "Behtarin Bahaneh", "Yar-e Ke Boodi", "Ghasr-e Sadaf", "Cheshman-e To", "Gol-e Shoore Zaar", "Soltan-e Ghalbha", "Na Mehraboon", "Bagh-e Baroon Zadeh", "Gonahat ra nemibakhsham" and "Nasihat".