Pugacheva, Alla (1949—)
Pugacheva, Alla (1949—)
Russian singer and pop star. Name variations: Alla Borisovna Pugacheva. Born in 1949; attended Ippolitov-Ivanov School of Music and the Lunacharsky School of Theatrical Arts; married four times, lastly to singer Philipp Kirkorov; children: Kristina Orbakaite (a singer and actress).
Made first recordings for radio station at age 16; toured USSR and Far East with Russian bands; won third prize at the All Union competition of pop artists (1974); won Grand Prix at Golden Orpheus competition in Bulgaria (1975); won first prize at International Sopot Song Festival (1978); star of concert tours, films and television shows; last singer to win the National Artist of the USSR award; awarded medal for "service to the fatherland," Russia's highest civilian award (1999).
Born in 1949, Alla Pugacheva spent her youth studying music and theater at the Ippolitov-Ivanov School of Music and the Lunacharsky School of Theatrical Arts and made her first recordings—for radio—at age 16. Her career as a performer began on the road, as she traveled through Siberia and the Far East with the promotions crew of a radio station and toured with a number of Russian bands, including New Electron, Moscovites and Happy Fellows.
In 1974, Pugacheva won third prize at the All Union competition of pop artists, receiving national attention for the first time. The following year she was offered the chance to participate in the Golden Orpheus competition in Bulgaria, when she was a last-minute replacement for star Georgy Movsesyan. Pugacheva won the contest with the song "Arkelino" (Harlequin), and in 1978 she won first prize at another competition, the International Sopot Song Festival in Poland. She soon became a musical superstar throughout Russia and Eastern Europe.
Adored in her homeland, where she filled sports stadiums during her concert tours, Pugacheva was the last singer to win the National Artist of the USSR accolade in the old Soviet Union. Though not the most talented or beautiful of her generation, Pugacheva seems to be celebrated by her millions of fans for her success and the odds she overcame to achieve it.
Described by The New York Times as "Moscow's Tina Turner with a hint of Edith Piaf ," Pugacheva has enjoyed unrivalled success in Russia. Her albums—a mix of pop, rock, folk and torch songs—are estimated to have sold between 140 and 200 million copies. She has appeared in several wildly popular films, including The Woman Who Sings (1977) and Came to Say (1985), and on television shows throughout Europe.
Temperamental, red-haired and flamboyant, Pugacheva is regarded as the first real Russian pop star, living her turbulent personal life (including four marriages, the first at the age of 20) in the public eye. "I think my life [has] consisted only of extremes," she said. Making the most of her status as cultural icon, Pugacheva allowed her name to be used for a line of perfume, her own line of shoes, her own magazine, and even a Finnish ocean liner. A popular Russian joke refers to Leonid Brezhnev as "a minor political figure in the Pugacheva era."
A fixture at festivals and competitions in Europe throughout her career, from Eurovision to Midem, Pugacheva has recorded over 20 albums and won numerous awards. She is also a director of concerts and television programs. Both her daughter Kristina Orbakaite and her latest husband Philipp Kirkorov are also pop stars. Described by music critic Artyom Troitsky as "the most popular human being in Russia," Pugacheva was awarded a medal for "service to the fatherland," Russia's highest civilian award, by former President Boris Yeltsin in 1999, on her 50th birthday.
Miami Herald. February 17, 2000.
Smale, Alison. "A Superstar Evokes a Superpower," in The New York Times. February 28, 2000, pp. B1, B4.
Paula Morris , D.Phil., Brooklyn, New York