Zulya Kamalova – Tatar Songs From Childhood

Stuck in lockdown in Melbourne, I’ve been listening to a lot more music at home – particularly in the evenings while I potter about, preparing food in the kitchen. After interviewing Zulya last week, I decided to revisit her earliest album, Aloukie. Not having heard it for many years I was absolutely delighted to listen once again – it brought back so many memories from that time in the late 1990s when ‘world music’ was extremely popular and music from non English-speaking cultures dominated festival stages.

Zulya has one of those singing voices. Once you’ve heard her voice and distinct musical ‘sound’ her music is forever recognisable. In this interview she describes how, as a child, she thought her voice was not as ‘bright’ as the other villiage kids’ voices. In maturity her artistry and voice has achieved a brightness that has left an indelible mark on Australia’s folk and world music landscape.

A native of Tatarstan-Udmurtia region of Central Russia, Zulya began performing Russian and Tatar songs at the age of 9. Here she speaks about the music that surrounded and influenced her as she was growing up.

Joined by Andrew Tanner on double bass and jaw harp, Zulya was also kind enough to sing us a few songs.

From her website:

Since her move to Australia in 1991 ZULYA has developed a totally original approach which takes her Tatar and Australian identity to totally new places and in completely new ways. ZULYA has independently produced nine albums to date, including ARIA-nominated elusive (2002) and, together with her band The Children of the Underground – ARIA-winning 3 nights and 2004’s The Waltz of Emptiness (and Other Songs on Russian Themes) both of which upon their release in Europe spent several months in the top 10 of European world music charts.

The band’s recent release in collaboration with a visual artist Dilka Bear –  a hardcover storybook/album “On Love and Science“ (2015) has received high critical acclaim (including a 5 star review in the Australian). ZULYA‘s most recent release “Alty Kon Yaratu/Six Days Loving”  – a collaboration with a Tatar poet Yoldyz Minnullina  and Dutch musician Michiel Hollanders has been described as her best yet.

Zulya and the Children of the Underground Trio will be presenting an online concert this Sunday 20 September 2020. Details HERE.

Zulya and The Children of the Underground performing Alma’s Song at the National Folk Festival 2017

Featured Photograph by WILK.

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