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07th December, 2022

The Power of Music: a musical journey from Iranian war child to War Child UK.

It was a typical Spring day when viewed from the outside looking in. The sun was shining. The skies were clear. The excitement of a family member’s birthday giving momentum to begin the day. But the only typical aspect of this day were the descriptive views of external eyes. Nothing could be further from the truth…

It was the late 80s. It was my homeland of Iran, torn apart from a war described as one of the bloodiest and deadliest of the 20th century. Two neighbours, Iran and Iraq, many external elements fighting for power, in the grips of bombs, bullets, tanks, death and everything void of any decent humanly thought or aspiration. None of these things were what I should remember of that day for I was only 3 years old.

I was born into a time of war. Before this very moment I had nearly died twice as a very young child but neither event I could remember for I was too young. But on this very Spring day, as the birds still sang and the sun shone, I remember it as vividly as I do now typing these words. It was my cousin’s birthday. There I was with my mum, amongst family and friends, gifts to bring a smile to a child’s face, a table of delights and sweets, all things that would make any birthday for a child seem memorable but for us, for me, the memory was one of great darkness and fear that would stay with me for the rest of my life.

The sirens began to ring. Panic instantly set in. The sounds of looming war replaced the nervous laughs and celebrations as we huddled to find comfort. I ran into my mother’s arms. A feeling of embrace that I truly shouldn’t have any recollection of but that is why I write these words today. None of this should be remembered for I was too young but remember it I can. For that is the brutality of war. It’s the one thing that breaks from any norm, any human morality or experience, to be able to implant itself into a young child’s mind and never let go when everything else before it had.

I have lived with that day my entire life. My family and I were lucky to escape the war raging in my homeland. As refugees, as immigrants we tried to leave behind the suffering of conflict and the brutality of a regime that in it’s power for the last 43 years of rule, has done to a nation and people what even war would pale in comparison to do.

But before I get to that, I will continue on about growing up and finding new hope and a new life in a new land. Through our journey and tumultuous trek we ended up in Canada, the country that I would call home for many years. Throughout my upbringing, through all the hardships and paths that would ensue, the power of music became my outlet. It was my way of coping with everything that I had experienced and translating it into something cohesive, something tangible to beat back against the drums of division and injustice.

When I knew what my path was going to be in life, nothing seemed out of place for me any longer. As a musician I was able to harness every dark shadow and cloud that hung over me and turn it into something beautiful, something bright, something with hopeful purpose. It was in Rock ‘n’ Roll that I would find my voice and progress through my life to take what was painfully mine, and turn it into what is now a lifelong quest to spread what John Lennon taught me through his music and legacy, LOVE.

It is a strange fate that an individual from the other side of the world would impact this young, budding immigrant Iranian musician but that indeed is the fate that was mine and the true purity of the impact of music. It knows no boundaries. It has no borders and no divisions.

Not only did the music of John Lennon and The Beatles, amongst others, inspire me to take up musical arms but later opened a door that is now somewhat of a lifelong project for me. The Annual Dear John Concert. A celebration of the great man’s music, legacy and of course birthday. I launched the event in 2019 (9th October which is John’s birthday to be exact) and before any preconceived notion could enter my mind, it became clear that the success of the event and the need for it to continue on the legacy of Peace that John so vehemently fought for, would need to be an annual occurrence. Since then it has been and I hope will continue to be for years to come.

Promo graphics for the annual 'Dear John' concert

It is through this very concert that my path lead to the works of the charity so close to my heart – War Child. I knew without any hesitation, that this was the charity I would want to put my energy for as I knew them from within. I was one of those children. I could have been their poster child those years ago and now that I had found this opportunity in life, as a musician to shine a spotlight on the devastation of war and the desire for Peace through the power of music, the relationship I so cherish bloomed with the organisation.

War Child are doing the work that is absolutely vital to break the shackles of conflict and part the clouds of darkness that follow you as a child being born into, growing up, experiencing the devastation of war. They work tirelessly to show children that the one thing that can be lost so easily as a war child can and must be kept deep within – hope! And that is exactly what they are giving to so many innocent kids around the world, the power of hope, and that is why precisely as a global community we must do all we can to support their efforts. Hope is a powerful force. It enlightens. It strengthens. It provides the fertile soil on which all life can build with promise, with compassion, with ultimately Love.

Sepp performing in support of War Child UK

Right now, another war is raging in my homeland of Iran and it has completely engulfed me as a human being. The war now taking place is not one of foreign nations in battle, but the war of a barbaric regime called the Islamic Republic that as I mentioned earlier, for the past 43 years has been at war with it’s own people. They have oppressed an entire population their entire existence. They have murdered tens of thousands of innocent lives through their maniacal, savage theocratic ideology, functioning as a state of gender apartheid which has brutalised the young women of Iran while silencing any form of dissent or hope for a better life, for freedom. Until now!

The Woman-lead revolution in Iran is one of the most important global movements of our times and has shown the world that an entire generation of young women and men no longer want or desire to live under the heinous grip of oppression and tyranny. They have shown the world their unparalleled courage and determination to not only rid our nation of this tyrannical cancer, but to bring about a future of peace for all humanity, for all in our fragile world.

As our revolution inside Iran and out continues to drive forward, it is the moment where once again the music and message of John Lennon pushes me on, drives me to continue. “Power To The People”! That’s what John sang. That’s what he professed and indeed, this is the most revolutionary moment of those very words. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

I know in my heart that one day soon I will return to my homeland. That I will step foot on the soil of those ancient lands that over 2500 years ago gave birth to the many values we hold dear here in the Western lands. From Canada, to USA, Europe and now England where I call home. The ancient Persian empire lead by the king of kings Cyrus The Great, birthed the first declaration of human rights. It was a shining beacon of life and rule with equality, tolerance and compassion. It is in these very values that we fight on now in this struggle against tyranny. A struggle that I have no doubt will bring about the freedom the heroic young people of Iran are literally dying for.

One day soon, when that freedom is attained, many great concerts will be held for the world to witness for the first time in over four decades in Iran. I can not wait to be there to welcome the world to our ancient land where Rock ‘n’ Roll will ring out once again and the spirit of John will echo through the streets of Tehran once more – ‘Dear John Have You Heard The News Today?’ WE WON! PEOPLE POWER WON! PEACE WON!


We shall overcome…
Sepp Osley

This month we're supporting War Child UK - a charity that works “to protect, educate and stand up for the rights of children living through conflict.”

If you can, give the gift of hope this Christmas by donating here:


Sepp Osley

Born into war-torn Iran in the 1980s, Osley went on to settle in Canada and then the UK, where he launched the annual Dear John Concert in celebration of John Lennon and in support of War Child UK.

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