Sevara Nazarkhan: a real Uzbekistani star

In Uzbekistan this week, everyone has been holding their breath as one of their own breaks out onto the world stage in the Russian version of “The Voice”. NewEurasia’s Eisenstein reports on the differences between this real talent contra a “certain plutocratic heiress”.

In Uzbekistan, everyone is holding their breath. We’re watching the television program “The Voice” on Russian TV Channel One. The appearance of Sevara Nazarkhan, singing Lara Fabian’s “Je T’ame”, caused a furore on the jury panel, who were shocked. Pelagea, a hugely famous Russian folk singer, cried when Sevara refused to join her team. Finally, a little respect for the Uzbeks. ;-)

Russian television is very popular in Uzbekistan, as local television is way too boring and, let’s face it, way too similar to Soviet propaganda. Each Uzbek house has a satellite dish or cable TV with Russian channels.

“The Voice” a clone of the super-popular Dutch program, “The Voice of Holland”, and it appears on Channel One during Saturday prime time, when most Uzbeks are watching TV. A licensed version of the program also has been having success in USA, UK and other countries (most likely among the ex-Soviet expatriate/immigrant communities there). The essence of the program is the high-powered jury: Pelagea, Leonid Agutin, Alexander Gradskiy and Dima Bilan. The judges select the best singers for their teams without seeing their faces, only listening to their voices, which makes the competition, at least initially, purely about the voice, and not about looks, performance abilities, etc. At the end of the show, the singers compete directly against each other.

Only 48 people out of thousands were selected for the show; of these, three Uzbekistanis made it in: Svetlana Sagdiyeva, Lera Grinyuk, and the favorite singer of the Uzbek people, the honored artist of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Sevara Nazarkhan. For once, we’ve got something in this country to unite us. It’s not often we have something legitimate to be proud of; we’re exhausted by all the faux patriotism peddled by government propaganda. Her progress in the show is being discussed over every office water cooler and petrol station counter. And this is the thing about our nation: when there is an actually popular hero, our people really do love that person.

In fact, the video of Sevara’s performance broke all the records in the Uzbek video hosting Here are some of the ecstatic user comments:

jojosmile October 20, 2012, 23:40

Eyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy gap yo’q olg’a o’zbek! (Hey, there is no deal, uzbeks, move forward!)

flybywire October 21, 2012, 17:08

Гордость за узбекский народ (Proud of the Uzbek people)

coopertroy 22 Октября 2012, 14:16

Как приятно, что люди такого уровня прославляют нашу страну и наш город так ярко и красиво. (How nice that we have high-level singers who can glorify our country and our city so bright and beautiful way)

This last user is right: Sevara’s the first time an Uzbekistani has managed to burst out onto more of an international scene. I mean, for real, not just the illusions of a certain plutocrat heiress. And it’s sad but perhaps telling that Sevara hasn’t appeared on any official government shows, or appear in concerts in Tashkent, or anything that local folk singers and other officially sanctioned “stars” do. And this despite the fact that Sevara has performed and recorded songs with none other than Peter Gabriel, Boris Grebenshikov, and other well-known musicians!

Sevara now busy recording a new album in England. As a fellow Uzbekistani, I’ve got to tell you: check out her websites!

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