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  • Writer's pictureLaura Smith

Celebrating Sirusho's contributions to Armenian culture

Բարեւ Ձեզ (Barev DZez)! Today is September 21, which is Armenian Independence Day. On this day in 1991, the people of Armenia voted in a referendum to gain independence from the Soviet Union.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of this momentous occasion, and what could be a better way to honour the day than by celebrating the contributions of one of Armenia's biggest stars and most successful Eurovision contestants to date - Sirusho!

A Young Achiever

Siranush Harutyunyan, otherwise known as Sirusho, was born to a mother and father who are both Honourable Artists of Armenia, and she has been performing from a very young age. She won her first award at the age of nine years old for her rendition of the song 'Lusabats' (Sunrise) - a folk song transcribed by the Armenian priest Komitas in the early 20th century. Komitas transcribed over 3000 pieces of traditional Armenian folk music, of which only around 1200 exist today due to more than half of them being lost.

For Sirusho, her first Armenian Music Award was the "sunrise" of her career, beginning a lifelong tradition of preserving and sharing her Armenian culture with her homeland and the world through her music and art.

Also at the age of nine, Sirusho won another award at the Young Talents Contest for an original composition.

Amazingly, despite performing in front of a crowd for the first time at the age of eight years old, singing was not Sirusho's initial dream. In one of her interviews, she explains:

“I have never been one of those children who dreamed of becoming a singer. I was a little kid and people would ask me to sing at events. Every time after I sang, I would see the amazed looks on their faces, and I couldn’t figure out the reason. I mean, I thought I wasn’t doing a hard thing, I was just singing the way I felt the music.”

Sirusho nonetheless continued singing, releasing her debut self-titled album in 2000 at the age of 13. She later went on to graduate from Yerevan State University with a degree in International Relations.

Eurovision Success

Eurovision fans know Sirusho best for her 2008 Eurovision Song Contest entry 'Qélé, Qélé', produced by Canadian-Armenian composer DerHova. The song was very well-received at the contest, placing 4th in the Grand Final with 199 points.

After the Contest, 'Qélé, Qélé' became popular in Greece and Cyprus, with the Yerevan remix of the song being played in nightclubs throughout both countries. 'Qélé, Qélé' even featured on an episode of the Greek and Cypriot series of 'X Factor'.

The following year, Sirusho collaborated with fellow Eurovision 2008 artists Jelena Tomasevic and Boaz Mauda on a song promoting peace, titled 'Time To Pray'. The song features lyrics in Armenian, Hebrew, Serbian, and English.

In 2011, the Junior Eurovision Song Contest was hosted in Armenia, which featured Sirusho as a guest performer, singing the Yerevan Remix of 'Qélé, Qélé' in the interval act.

Critical Acclaim

Sirusho has won countless awards in Armenia for her music, including the Armenian National Music Award for 'Best Album of the Year' for her album 'Sheram' in 2005, and four consecutive 'Best Female Artist of the Year' awards from 2005-2008.

In addition to her Armenian honours, Sirusho's acclaim has extended outside of her country, winning the award for 'Best Female Artist of the Year' at the Annual Armenian-Russian Diaspora Music Awards in 2006, as well as being nominated for 'The Best Armenian Singer', 'The Best Armenian Song', and 'The Best Armenian Music Video' at the 2014 World Music Awards.

In 2017, one of Armenia's highest honours was bestowed upon Sirusho - the title of 'Honoured Artist of Armenia', continuing a familial tradition.

Honouring Armenia

Throughout her career, Sirusho's music has honoured many important Armenian cultural events. In 2006, the passing of beloved music icon Varduhi Vardanyan inspired her to dedicate the song 'Mez Vochinch Chi Bazhani' (Nothing Will Separate Us) to her. Varduhi Vardanyan was a close friend of Sirusho's since childhood.

In 2015, Sirusho commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide with the song 'Kga Mi Or' (Where Were You?). The music video for this song featured historical footage, as well as folk costume and dance. After releasing the music video for 'Kga Mi Or', Sirusho posted the following as a Facebook status:

"My recent works are inspired by the Armenian beats. The folk dance 'Yerek Votk of Lori' both with its rhythmical structure and the dance steps, is used as a basis on which we created a completely new song and dance. Throughout our history, even in the most difficult times, we were able to find strength and courage through singing and dancing. This is a characteristic of a strong nation, which I'm very proud of"

Where Is She Now?

Whether it is through her songs, music videos filmed in culturally significant locations, jewellery collections, or even a documentary series, Sirusho has continued to build her career and expand her storytelling in new and creative ways.

Komitas' music has been influential throughout Sirusho's life, with the song 'Lorva Gutanerg' (Lori Plough Song) serving as inspiration for Sirusho's song 'PreGomesh'. Combining Armenian folk sounds with modern pop elements, 'PreGomesh' was highly appreciated in Armenia and became the name of Sirusho's jewellery brand, featuring handmade silver jewellery in traditional Armenian patterns.

In conjunction with her 2016 album 'Armat' (Roots), Sirusho filmed a documentary series of the same name, interviewing Armenians living all around the world, sharing their unique stories and experiences as well as their common connection to Armenian culture and traditions.

In 2021, Sirusho is continuing to release new music, with her most recent single being a collaboration with the famous international producer RedOne. The single is a bona-fide summer hit, mixing dance pop elements with Armenian sounds.

From the very beginning of her illustrious career to the present day, Sirusho has consistently been an ambassador for Armenian culture and traditions. For over two decades, through her songs, music videos, costumes, dances, jewellery, and filmography, Sirusho has dedicated her life to sharing, celebrating, and honouring her motherland. As a result, Sirusho is undoubtedly a national treasure of Armenia.

Շնորհավոր անկախության տոնը (Shnorhavor ankakhut’yan tony) from Aussievision!

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