Published: October 24, 2016

Tamila (real name Esmeralda Rahmatova) is an Uzbek pop singer who has most recently been best known for a series of scandals that resulted in her losing her performance license in Uzbekistan.

Tamila was born in 1988 in Qarshi, in the southwest of Uzbekistan. She began performing in 2011 and had a good few years of hit songs before things took a turn.

In 2015, Tamila’s license was revoked by Uzbek music oversight agency Uzbeknavo because, among other reasons, she posted photographs on social networking sites of herself with facial piercings, which was apparently a violation of her agreement with Uzbeknavo. She got her license back several months later, though.

However, in February 2016 Tamila’s license was again revoked because several video clips of Tamila naked were leaked over messaging app Telegram. She purportedly fled to Kazakhstan in the aftermath and held a press conference in which she said that the “amoral” images had been faked, and were not actually her.

But Uzbek politics aside, Tamila has been an influential part of contemporary Uzbek pop. Demonstrating her impressive determination to forge ahead in her singing career, she’s continued to record new music. In June 2016 she recorded an English-language duet with fellow Uzbek singer Eldor Qayumov. The video’s director, Timur Primkulov, has also worked with many of the other contemporary stars of the Uzbek pop scene—Lola and Shahzoda, among others—showing that she’s not quite a persona non grata. It has been noted, though, that her decision to film the new song in English shows that maybe she’s switching her sights from Uzbekistan to the rest of the world. Let’s hope we’ll soon be able to start focusing more on her music.


“Come On” (“Kel ayama”):


“I Want to Have” (“Gapim bor”), one of Tamila’s more popular songs:


Unfortunately, lyrics to Tamila’s songs are not available online.

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

View all posts by: Julie Hersh