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A little while back, we talked about famous crooners from Russia and the former USSR. There are also plenty of female singers who left their mark on the popular music of the Soviet period. I will share five as a teaser, but there are, naturally, many, many others. I hope this post inspires you to do some exploring on your own!
Lyudmila Zykina was born in Moscow in 1929. After a series of industrial jobs and a stint in the medical field, she launched her singing career thanks to being one of the four contestants chosen to join the Pyatnitsky Russian Folk Choir. Zykina is known for the folk sound of her songs. She won multiple awards both in the USSR and Russia. Her famous tracks include «Тече́т река́ Во́лга» (“The River Volga Flows”), «Степь, да степь круго́м» (“Steppe All Around”), «Опусте́ла без тебя́ земля́» (“The Earth Grew Empty Without You”), and «Оренбу́ргский пухо́вый плато́к» (“Orenburg Down Kerchief”).
Klavdia Shul’zhenko was born in Kharkiv in 1906. She started her career as a theater actress, making her musical debut in the late 20s. She is renowned for performing in front of troops during the Second World War. Her famous songs include «Си́ний плато́чек» (“Blue Kerchief”), «Дава́й заку́рим» (“Let’s Have A Smoke”), and «Друзья́-однополча́не» (“Battle Comrades”).
Valentina Tolkunova was born in 1946 in a military family. She received musical training and went on to create her own musical theater in 1968. Her famous songs include «Стою́ на полуста́ночке» (“Standing At The Way Station/Halt”), «Поговори́ со мно́ю, ма́ма» (“Talk To Me, Mom”), «Я не могу́ ина́че» (“I Can’t Help It”), and «Ка́бы не́ было зимы́» (“If There Was No Winter”). Tolkunova died of cancer at the age of 63.
Aida Vedishcheva, born Ida Vais, was born in Kazan in 1941. After graduating from college, she went to Moscow to take the entrance exam for an acting school, which she failed. She started a successful singing career in the 60 but had a hard time because of her Jewish background. In 1980, she moves to the US. Vedishcheva is known for soundtracks to old cartoons, such as «Песе́нка о медве́дях» (“Bear Song”), «Помоги́ мне» (“Help Me”), and «Лесно́й оле́нь» (“Forest Deer”).
Alla Pugavecha was born in Moscow in 1949. She took piano lessons from a young age and has formal training in music. Pugacheva got her lucky break in 1975, when she won a song contest in Bulgaria. Pugacheva was nicknamed “prima donna” for her popularity, which peaked in the 70s and 80s. Her big hits include «Любо́вь, похо́жая на сон» (“Dreamlike Love”), «Миллио́н а́лых роз» (“Million Scarlet Roses”), «А́йсберг» (“Iceberg”), «Не отрека́ются любя́» (“You Don’t Disown The One You Love”), and «Куда́ ухо́дит де́тство» (“Where Does Childhood Go”). Although retired from active touring, she remains well-known and loved in Russia.