Shahzoda / Шахзода

Shahzoda (Шахзода; real name Zilola Bahodirovna Musayeva, as it is spelled in Uzbek) is an Uzbek singer and actress. Shahzoda grew up in Fergana, in the Uzbek SSR. She was interested in music from her childhood, but has no musical education—she studied management at the International State University of Kyiv, but left the university to […]

Bulat Okudzhava / Булат Окуджава

Bulat Okudzhava (1924–1997) (Булат Окуджава) was a Georgian-Armenian Russian-speaking poet and singer-songwriter, and one of the founders of Russia’s bardic tradition. Okudzhava’s parents both worked for the Communist Party, but they were arrested during the Stalinist purges of 1937, and he was raised by other relatives. He started writing poetry as a child. He volunteered […]

Maksim Leonidov / Максим Леонидов

Maksim Leonidov (Максим Леонидов) is a Russian singer originally from St. Petersburg. Best known for leading the popular Soviet band Secret (Секрет), he has also led a solo career in Israel and Russia. Leonidov’s parents both worked in theater, and he grew up surrounded by theater and music. He attended music school in St. Petersburg, […]

Melnitsa / Мельница

Melnitsa (Мельница; translates as Windmill) is a Celtic folk rock group from Russia. Founded by Natalia O’Shea, whose stage name is Hellawes, the group’s current members are Aleksey Orlov (electric violin, violin, mandolin), Aleksey Kozhanov (bass guitar, acoustic guitar), Dmitriy Frolov (drums), Sergey Vishnyakov (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, backup vocals), Dmitriy Kargin (flute), and O’Shea […]

Natalia O’Shea / Наталья О’Шей (Hellawes / Хелависа)

Natalia O’Shea (Наталья Андреевна О’Шей) performs self-composed Celtic folk rock in Russian. She has released music as part of the popular folk band Melnitsa (Мельница) and as a solo artist under her stage name Hellawes (Хелависа). She is also a linguist and a specialist in Celtic languages. Hellawes studied piano at music school, but her […]

Alsou / Алсу

Alsou is a Russian singer of Bashkir and Tatar descent. Born in Tatarstan, the USSR, in 1983, she has lived in Siberia, Moscow, New York, and London and holds dual Russian and British citizenship. Professionally, she is known only by her first name. Her full name is Alsou Ralifovna Abramova. Her father, Ralif Rafilovich Safin, […]

Valeria / Валерия

Alla Yurievna Perfilova, better known by her stage name, “Valeria,” is from the small town of Atkarsk in the Saratov Oblast in Russia’s southwest. Raised by a family of classical musicians, she studied music her whole life. After graduating high school, Valeria moved to Moscow and entered the prestigious Gnessin Academy of Music in Moscow. […]

Dima Bilan / Дима Билан

Dima Bilan was born in Karachay-Cherkessia, a republic in Russia’s Caucasus region. He entered a specialty musical school in the fifth grade, where he studied primarily the accordion. He also took part in several youth contests in Karachay-Cherkessia and in Moscow. He entered the prestigious Gnessin Musical Academy in 2000. He met his future producer, […]

A Brief History of Russian Shanson

Russian shanson is a uniquely Russian cultural phenomenon. A traditionally rebellious musical genre, which has a reputation for describing the darkest parts of life in Russia, became widely popular during the Soviet era, despite being effectively banned in the USSR. It has now moved from its underground existence to mainstream Russian culture. There are radio stations and […]

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