Singer Arthur Grigorian has enjoyed a long and illustrious career and is now considered to be the ‘godfather of Armenian pop music’. His albums include The Best of the Best and Yesterday, Today and… Arthur is also a peace advocate and vocal supporter of Nagorno-Karabakh, the native land of his father.
What makes a good musician? - A musician should not lie. They must be honest with themselves, God and their fans. They must be willing to bare their souls.
How do you characterise Armenian music? - Armenian pop incorporates much traditional music. It uses traditional instruments like the duduk, zurna, shiva and bulula and blends classic rhythms and beats that are familiar to all Armenians.
Why does it borrow so much from the traditional? - Armenia is a small country between much larger neighbours. There has always been the threat that we would lose our culture to Russian, Turkish or Iranian invaders. So our defence has been to clutch what remains Armenian to ward off external influences. Even when we adopted pop music from the West it was important to make it uniquely Armenian. Armenians in Turkey and Iran have mixed their music with Turkish and Iranian sounds, which is something we must try to avoid.
Which artists have influenced you? - Among the Western pop artists, I’d say my guru is Stevie Wonder. He is my musical inspiration. In Armenia I appreciate the music of Komitas.
What do you do when you’re not making sweet Armenian music? - I love to fly helicopters and airplanes. In my next life I want to be a professional pilot. My friend is a pilot and I occasionally join him in the cockpit. One time he let me fly the entire route from Yerevan to Belfast – the passengers were Armenia’s national soccer team!
What is most important for Armenia? - A peaceful solution in Karabakh. Karabakhis are the bravest, smartest people in the world and they deserve a peaceful and prosperous future. There are many external forces that have played a role in Karabakh but it’s time for the Karabakhis to determine their own fate. I pray for peace not only in Karabakh but also in Armenia and Azerbaijan.
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