See you in Vegas, Nune

Nune joins Alla Levonian and Andy for a year-end kef like no other

by Adrineh Gregorian

Published: Friday December 19, 2008

Nune and her son Henry.

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Yerevan - Timeless is one word that can be used to describe Armenian folk songs. Few performers, however, have managed to bring these classics into the mainstream. Nune Yesayan is the exception. She continues to interpret Armenian musical gems with her signature mix of modern pop sensibilities, fidelity to the originals, and sheer vocal grace.

For the past 20 years, Nune has managed to keep Armenian folk relevant to the present. One listen to her popular version of "Kele Lao," and you'll know why her renditions of Armenian folk music have stood the test of time and have even gotten better.

While motherhood has brought a new calmness to Nune - she has a one-year-old son, Henry - she is as ever confidently poised to push her work to an even higher level. "There is pressure to come out with a new album and I have at least 10 songs ready, but I'm in no rush," she says. "I'm more relaxed and I want to make sure my next album has the finest songs on it."

In recent years, Nune has placed much emphasis on live performances. Today her busy schedule includes at least one international engagement a month. "It's more important for me to perform live in concert than come out with a new CD," she adds.

Nune's upcoming concert - on December 27 at Paris Las Vegas - will mark the first time she'll be seen on the American stage in four years. Together with two other pop icons, Andy and Alla Levonian, Nune will perform a holiday-themed set. "We want to make it a very fun program," she says. "One that is cheerful and filled with kef."

Sharing the stage, the three performers promise to offer a perfect balance of folk, spirit, and pop - Nune with her pristine folk renditions; Alla Levonian with her celebrated patriotic songs and tracks from her recent hit album, Maral, dedicated to all mothers; and Andy with his original compositions and renditions of pop favorites.

What's next for Nune?

On the heels of a live concert on "Benefit," a popular program on Armenian public television, Nune is coming out with a DVD compilation of 20 of her music videos. She's also belting out new tunes such as the hit "Yergusov," a duet with Arame, which combines her folk elements with Arame's pop style.

Among the mix of forthcoming projects is a movie about Nune's life and work. Directed by Hrant Movsissyan, the biopic, due out soon, will depict the evolution of Nune's career and tell her personal story beginning with her childhood years. Two actresses will portray Nune in different stages of her life and the artist herself will be featured in the film.

This summer Nune launched the Nune Yesayan Art Productions' charity branch, which will open doors for musically talented students through financial support and mentorships. "I've always helped students in need," Nune says. "But through this organization, we can reach out to more youths who have the talent but no means to improve their skills."

While in the 1990s and early 2000s Nune's concert schedule included regular appearances in Europe, the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina, in recent years she has increased the number of her performances in the growing Armenian communities of Russia and Ukraine.

"Reaction from diasporan communities have always been different," Nune says. "In Los Angeles I have a unique fan base and it's as if I personally know each and every one of them. And that's why I feel badly about not performing there for four years. For sure I want to perform in Los Angeles again next year."

Nune has performed in some of the world's most prestigious venues. "All these years I've gotten everything I've wanted," she says, referring to the renowned music halls in which she has appeared in concert. She adds that she would love to perform at the Paris Olympia next.

Staying true to herself

In the span of 20 years, Nune has reinvented herself through various genres, but has always stayed true to folk. "Once I change my style, my fans immediately notice," she says.
"Nune has evolved in recent years," notes admirer Narineh Avedissyan. "She's always moving forward in her craft."

Having first studied music under master jazz vocalist Tatevik Hovannisyan, Nune says she plans to revisit her jazz roots in the near future.

"Other artists are like butterflies," says Alla Markaryan, who has been following Nune's career through the years. "They are here one day and gone the other, but Nune is one of a kind."

"Who knows what will happen in the next 20 years," Nune muses. "The most important thing for me is peace and stability, and then I'll know how to plan my next step."

www.nune.am

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