Куралбек Чокоев

Kuralbek Chokoev / Куралбек Чокоев

Published: September 29, 2016

Kuralbek Chokoev (Куралбек Чокоев) is a Kyrgyz contemporary singer and actor. Evening Bishkek (Вечерний Бишкек) has described him as “a wonderful and modest person with an open soul and heart.” He sings mostly pop, preferring happier tunes.

Chokoev was born in 1987 and grew up mainly in Kara-Balta, a town in Chuy province (not too far from Bishkek). Both of his parents are musical, and he credits them with giving him his singing voice—although they didn’t want him to become a musician at first. In school, he played the guitar and sang for his friends, dreaming of one day becoming a singer. After finishing school, he enrolled in the State Institute of the Arts in the department of orchestral conducting. He participated in various contests at the same time and even ended up on KVN, the popular Russian humor/game show. Partly due to this experience, he switched to the institute’s department of theater and film, hoping to become an actor.

Chokoev did work as an actor for several years, and he did so well that the Kyrgyz Ministry of Culture awarded him a prize for outstanding contributions to the culture of the Kyrgyz Republic. In 2011, he switched course once again, enrolling in the vocal department of the Kyrgyz National Conservatory. He participated in, and won, the Kyrgyz Golden Voice competition in 2011. Yet at that time, he was barely known in Kyrgyzstan (or anywhere else, for that matter)—he says that this is because he had neither money nor connections, both of which are important for getting ahead in Kyrgyz show business. He told Evening Bishkek, “I periodically appeared on the scene, then disappeared, people learned who I was, then forgot.” He couldn’t record music or videos until later on.

Chokoev has finally started to gain popularity as a singer over the past few years. In 2014 he was one of the finalists at the 17th International Competition-Festival for Musical Creativity of Turkic Youth, where his singing and theatrical persona impressed the jury. He has recorded more than 20 songs, including many collaborations with other Kyrgyz singers, most often Ilyaz Andash. His song “Know” (“Билип жүр”) has been making waves on Kyrgyz radio recently.


“Cocoon Cherries” (“Кокон гилас”):





“Know” (“Билип жүр”):



Lyrics for “Билип жүр”:

Токточу, жигит,
Айтайын, сенде бар бир сөзүм.
Мен сенден коркпоймун,
Сен антип кабакты түйбөгүн.
Билемин байлык бар,
Кыздарың башка дагы көп.
Бирок, ал кызга тийбегин,
Ал кызга тийбегин,
Анткени ал менин сүйгөнүм.

Дүрүдүм, дүрү-дүрүдүм,
Болду келбей жүргүн.
Жигити бар экен деп,
Эми сен билип жүргүн.
Дүрүдүм, дүрү-дүрүдүм,

Билемин, байлыкка,
Сен алып баарын көнгөнсүң.
Оту жок жалынга,
Калп эле кыйналып күйбөгүн.
Сен жигит таң калба,
Ал үчүн даярмын мен баарына,
Анткени ал менин,
Анткени ал менин сүйгөнүм.



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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