Essaï Altounian / Եսայի Ալթունյան

Published: January 12, 2020

An Armenian singer, actor, and keyboardist, Essaï Altounian (Եսայի Ալթունյան) is most famous artist as a French popstar. He sings mostly in French, but also has released hits in English and, of course, Armenian.

Altounian was born 1980 in Paris, France. The son of Armenian parents, Altounian was greatly influenced by the stories of his Armenian grandparents who escaped the 1915 Genocide. These stories instilled in him a personal connection to the tragedies, and has been a major motivator for some of his music.

From humble beginnings, Altounian was able to cement his place in pop culture through his versatility in composing songs from multiple genres and themes. Altounian composed his first song when he was only 12. At age 19 he had signed a contract with Sony France as the lead of his first major band, Ideal-3. Altounian quickly gained nationwide recognition in France for songs such as “Pardonne-moi.” He also soon launched a solo career and began composing for TV shows and, later, theatre and movies. He has since worked as Musical Director on several TV projects and now acted in theatrical productions. He also served on the jury of CBS’ The World’s Best talent show in the US.

One of his most notable performances in recent years was with the group Genealogy at Eurovision 2015, where they placed 16th overall.

Altounian has also released music in Armenian and is well known in Armenia, receiving airtime on pop stations there. In 2015, he joined several other Armenian stars to form the Armenian supergroup Genealogy and perform “Face the Shadows” in the 2015 Eurovision competition.

In honor of the victims of the 1915 genocide, he wrote a song in 2015 titled “Je n’oublie pas / Chem Morana,” or “I Will Not Forget.” Altounian continues to work on new music, including collaborations and performances with members of Genealogy, such as the Arshakyan sisters.

 

Je n’oublie pas / Chem Morana

 

Long time ago and not so far away,
Many people gone still don’t know why
Rising up and imploring the sky
Wishing the pain to go away

Facing you today, I have come to stay
After so many years

You cannot stay in the dark and deny
I’m here to say

How many cried and how much pain
How many years wai in vain
I’m still there, with a shiny eye

Où que je sois je n’oublie pas

Now is the time to get started again
Do the right thing it is in your hand
You will always find me on your way
And my children will not forget
You cannot stay in the dark and deny
I’m here to say

How many cried and how much pain
How many years waiting in vain
I’m still there, with a shiny eye

Où que je sois je n’oublie pas

No I never will forget
it’s always on my mind
and wherever you go
I’ll be there.

How many cried and how much pain
How many years waiting in vain
I’m still there, with a shiny eye

Où que je sois je n’oublie pas
Ur el linem, chem morana…

 

Galu Em (We Have) – song in Armenian

About the Author

SRAS Graduate Mateos Hayes, a student of Armenian heritage at the University of Tennessee, contributed to this article as an SRAS Home and Abroad finalist.

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SRAS Students

SRAS students come from around the world to study, intern, or research in Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, or Russia. They often write while abroad and, on occasion, SRAS will request to publish exceptional works. This account on Students Abroad will serve as platform to publish single contributions from individual students.

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