Buranovskiye Babushki

Buranovskiye Babushki (Бурановские Бабушки) is a long-running traditional folk choir from Buranovo, Russia. They sing predominantly in their native Udmurt language, a subgroup of the Uralic language family, which also includes Finnish, Hungarian, and Estonian.

Formed in 1968 in an effort to preserve the local singing traditions, the group came to national prominence 40 years later under the leadership of Olga Tuktareva (Ольга Туктарева), the then director of the Buranovo House of Culture. They began to perform well-known pop songs in the unique folk style of Udmurtian singers after a Moscow-based music producer suggested that Tuktareva cover Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” Beginning with covers of popular Soviet-era musicians Boris Grebenshchikov (Борис Гребенщиков) and Viktor Tsoi (Виктор Цой, of the band Kino), Buranovskiye Babushki would go on to arrange their own renditions of songs by the Beatles, the Eagles, and Deep Purple, and win the hearts of music lovers across Russia and in many parts of the world.

In 2010, the group greatly extended its national recognition when it participated in the Eurovision qualifying competition for Russia. Although they didn’t win, their song, “How to Turn a Long Long Birch Bark into a Turban” (“Длинная-Длинная Береста и Как Сделать Из Нее Айшон”), took third place. Two years later, however, Buranovskiye Babushki reentered the competition and won with the mixed Udmurt/English song “Party for Everybody.” Their performance of the song at the 2012 Eurovision contest in Baku, Azerbaijan, resulted in a second-place finish.

Since their rise to prominence, Buranovskiye Babushki has remained committed to using the proceeds of their fame toward the reconstruction of the Trinity Church in Buranovo. Originally built in 1901, the church was closed during the Stalinist period in 1937 and later demolished to build a barracks. The new foundation for the church was laid in 2012, and construction was completed in 2014. The attention garnered by the group at Eurovision has also spurred local government officials to begin much-needed infrastructural repairs in Buranovo—bringing in a new water pipeline, streetlights, and high-speed Internet.

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Video of Buranovskiye Babushki performing “Party for Everybody” at the 2012 Eurovision contest:

 

Lyrics for “Party for Everybody”:

Ӝӧккышет тӧдьы вӧлдӥсько, пиосме возьмасько.
Котэм нянь буй-буй ик будэ, сюлэмы небӟе.

Party for everybody! Dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and… Boom! Boom!

Корка тыр ик нылпиосы, бертӥзы мусоосы.
Корка тыр ик нылпиосы, бертӥзы мусоосы.
Вож дэремме дӥсяло но, тӧдь кышетме мон кертто,
Вож дэремме дӥсяло но, эктыны пото.

Кырӟалом жон-жон-жон,
Эктом ми куаж-куаж али.
Кырӟалом жон-жон-жон
Ваньмы ӵошен.

Party for everybody! Dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and …
Party for everybody! Dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and… Boom! Boom!

Коӵыше но шумпотэ но, пуные но шумпотэ.
Коӵыше но шумпотэ но, пуные но шумпотэ.
Мылы-кыды капчия но, шумпотонэн пачылме,
Мылы-кыды капчия но, шумпотонэ но.

Кырӟалом жон-жон-жон,
Эктом ми куаж-куаж али.
Кырӟалом жон-жон-жон
Ваньмы ӵошен.

Party for everybody! Dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and …
Party for everybody! Dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and… Boom! Boom!

Party for everybody! Dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and …
Party for everybody! Dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and dance!
Come on and… Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Dance!

 

Video of the group singing the Beatles’ “Let It Be”:

 

Original lyrics for “Let It Be” (the Udmurt translation is not available):

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

 

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Michael Filitis is a recent MA graduate from the University of Chicago where he concentrated on early Soviet nationalities policy, propaganda, and the rise of nationalism in Eastern Europe. A recipient of SRAS’s Home and Abroad Scholarship his current focus is the improvement of his Russian language skills with the goal of pursuing a Phd in Russian history and political science. Outside of academia, he enjoys playing and composing music, eating to excess, movies about space, and contemplating a more active lifestyle.