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The Madonna of Armenia

Nune Yesayan is an Armenian singer known for her fusion of traditional Armenian folk songs with jazz and pop music. Her concerts feature nationalistic songs with traditional instruments such as duduk and saz vying for space with keyboards, guitars, and trumpets. The 29-year-old Yesayan also produces spectacular events accompanied by male and female dancers. One concert started with the performers moving through the audience in the lobby, passing out fruit, juggling, and generally producing the atmosphere of an old Armenian city. These events have given her the European nickname “The Madonna of Armenia.” In recent years, she also has become popular in the United States. In May 1998, for example, she performed at sold-out concerts in San Francisco and Pasadena, California. She also used some of the profits from a European concert to help the victims of the September 11, 2001, attack on New York’s World Trade Center. As with many stars, Yesayan’s life has not been easy. Coming from a traditional family, she was not encouraged to become a performer, so she entered an engineering school after high school. She later was accepted into a music college when she met people who supported her talent. Yesayan also married an Armenian man who insisted she give up singing and convinced her that she had no talent. After one year, she separated from him and started singing again. Her albums include Ov Inch Kidi (Who Knows . . .?), Kavarn Mer (Our Small Village), and Ashkharah (The World). Much of her concert profits go to the All-Armenia Fund for helping impoverished Armenians.

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