Yulduz Usmonova

Yulduz Usmonova is an Uzbek singer who has been beloved in Uzbekistan and surrounding countries for several decades. She sings mainly in Uzbek, but her repertoire includes songs in Russian, English, Uighur, Turkish, Kazakh, and Tatar. Her genre is considered pop, but her songs also include traditional Uzbek instruments and are not typical pop tunes.

Usmonova was born in 1963 in Margilan, a city in far eastern Uzbekistan, in Fergana province. Her parents worked in a silk factory. Usmonova was always attracted to music, and she got her start at the local Culture House, organizing a dutar (traditional Uzbek instrument) ensemble. She later attended a music institute. She happened to meet legendary Uzbek singer Gavxar Raximova at a concert, and Rahimova later brought her to Tashkent with her and taught her singing. Through Raximova, Usmonova met a conservatory professor who took her under her wing and later, in 1984, helped her get into the Tashkent State Conservatory.

Usmonova’s career began for real when she finished her studies, and she was soon making waves across Eurasia. Her fame picked up after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when she participated in the 1991 Voice of Asia festival. She took second place, which brought her fame across the Soviet Union and Europe. She began touring all over the world, performing concerts and at festivals. By now Usmonova has released more than twenty albums through record labels all over the world. Most are in Uzbek, though she does have one, About Love (О любви), that is partly in Russian. Her latest is 2015’s Men Sen Bilan Qirolichaman.

Usmonova is also known for her political activities. Though she was a supporter of longime president Islam Karimov, she also often spoke out against Uzbek authorities and violated official strictures, including by giving a concert in Turkmenistan when political relations beetween the two countries were strained. She was also forced to leave Uzbekistan several times. In 2008, after the events in Fergana known as Bloody Friday and as a result of her more general political dissatisfaction with Uzbekistan, she moved to Turkey, where she stayed for several years and picked up a whole new audience. She is currently once again living in Uzbekistan.

Besides being a singer, Usmonova is an inspirational figure in independent Uzbekistan: according to her official biography, “she represents a new spirit: of freedom, of independence and innovation, while [she also celebrates] age-old traditions. To her fans in her homeland of Uzbekistan, Yulduz is the voice of the future. To her European audience, she is an icon of authenticity who connects the old to the new, the East to the West.”

Usmonova has a daughter, Nilufar Usmonova, who is also a famous Uzbek pop singer.

Find Yulduz Usmonova on Amazon

 

“Men seni qizgonaman,” from one of Usmonova’s earlier albums:

 

 

“Sabo bo’lib,” one of Usmonova’s newest music videos:

 

Lyrics are not available.

 

Find Yulduz Usmonova on Amazon

Julie is currently studying Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk (and before that, Bishkek) with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.