Bek Borbiev

Bek Borbiev / Бек Борбиев

Published: September 22, 2016

Bek Borbiev (Бек Борбиев; real name Berador Borbuyev, Берадор Борбуев) is a Kyrgyz singer-songwriter still working today, though he is from the generation before the new crop. His style is completely different from that of today, totally uninfluenced by American pop (although it is perhaps influence by the Soviet pop of his time). His music has a more essentially Kyrgyz feel, with his complex melodies, gruff voice, and instrumental accompaniments, chiefly the accordion.

Borbiev was born in 1971 and grew up in the city of Toktogul, in northwest Kyrgyzstan. He played the accordion from early on, although when he was young his dream was to be an athlete. He changed his tune later, although his parents steered him toward a more practical career—he studied engineering and construction in Bishkek. He and some friends started a pop ensemble, with which they took first place for the singer-songwriter genre at a student music festival, Spring Ala-Too, in 1986. His career officially started at that point, as he sang and accompanied himself on the accordion. He became popular first in Osh, a city on the border with Uzbekistan, and then, by the mid-1990s, throughout the country.

Borbiev is also politically active: he briefly had a government position in 2005, under President Bakiev, who took over during the 2005 Tulip Revolution but was in turn ousted after a second revolution in 2010. Borbiev had another post briefly in the cultural ministry in 2012, but he was connected with a scandal later that year when he performed at the 65-year jubilee for ex-president Bakiev, who had taken refuge in Minsk under Lukashenko’s patronage. Borbiev only noted, “The fans choose the singer, and there’s no difference who they are—Bakiev, Akaev [the first president of Kyrgyzstan, ousted by the Tulip Revolution], or a criminal authority.”

These days, Borbiev is a Distinguished Artist of the Kyrgyz Republic. He is still touring and performing.


“I Will Miss You” (“Мен сени сагынган бойдон жүрөм”):


“I Said to You” (“Сен дедим”):


Unfortunately, lyrics are not available for most of Borbiev’s songs.


About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie studied 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.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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