Svetlana Shmulyian came to New York from Moscow.
Photo - Elisseo Cardona, Blue Monk Moods
Beautiful, talented, amazingly friendly and open, intelligent, educated, a great stage presence....
I meet Svetlana a year ago, but finally got to see her live show a month ago. It was at her regular gig at The Back Room
on Monday Nights, with a 'swing' jazz Speakeasy atmosphere.
Amazing setting for Svetlana and the 'Delancey Five'
. This Monday night event is soooo New York, I asked Svetlana to be featured in my 'Artists in New York Series.
So tell us a bit more about you and your coming to New York City.
When did you move to NYC~ From Moscow.
moved to New York from Moscow in 1995 with a one-way ticket on Delta
Airlines. I came with the scholarship to study management, having
graduated with honors from the university in Moscow studying mathematics
- and also a two year program in jazz voice at the The Moscow College
of Improvised Music where
I studied with the luminaries of the
Russian jazz scene. Upon completing the two year music
program I was among the only two vocalists invited to continue the
studies, the ensemble instructor also asked
me to join her band as a vocalist for a regular gig at a swanky Moscow
Jazz club. I was also recruited, upon a competitive audition, into a
girl trio band that had both jazz and pop sound... Seemed like my music
career was about to begin - but I
already bought my one-way ticket to New York - a decision that both
promoted and somewhat stalled my music career.
Had you ever been here to visit before you moved here?
Did you know what to expect?
did not know what to expect but I was very excited - I remember the JFK
automatic terminal doors opening into my new life as if it were
yesterday... New York gave me a very warm welcome - late August, the
glorious New York early fall weather that extended for weeks, my first
room in Queens and then several shared apartments in East Village... As I
was rolling my one suitcase onto the JFK sidewalk and later to the East
Side YMCS I remember saying to myself - this feels like home...
missed my family, but every day I was meeting people that I could have
never met at home which was one of the most thrilling things about New
York - I also saw people walking down the street in their pajamas in the
middle of the day, and no one would pay attention... I met a bunch of
bohemian artists, musicians, poets and went to many underground parties,
poetry readings, performance art installation, music concerts in, then,
non-gentrified, Williamsburg. Despite it's vast difference with where I
came from, New York felt like a fantastic, liberating and very natural
place for me to live...
|Photo: Anya Roz|
Svetlana and the
Delancey Five: 'It Don't Mean A Thing'
many who came to the new land before me, I quickly got rid of most of
my home packed treasures - but kept a few for memory sake... To this
day I still have a .....
pan packed into the suitcase by my mom. The pan was one of the numerous
“wonder” products that arrived to Moscow from China with the promise to
transform pale Moscow produce into the cook-book-picture worthy meals.
In my mom’s view, the frying pan was there to protect me from the
dangers of the new land as I did not have any family or friends to do
so; it was a talisman of safety and prosperity in the new world, and
also a symbol of my mother’s love.
then 2 final questions I ask everyone..Svetlana,
1. If you were leaving the planet and could take only one album with you, which would you take??
Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! 1961 studio album by the
Ella produced by Verve. From first vinyl span on my
Moscow flat turntable to the dozens of tunes on my IPod - with her flawless intonation, lash tone,
and breathtaking solos - Ella is my greatest inspiration.
2. If you could perform with anyone, who would you choose?
Louis Armstrong is a master of swing,
vocally and instrumentally, his voice has flawless intonation and
richness of tone that worked gorgeously with female vocalists.
Some final thoughts from Svetlana...
... My children are my greatest work of art; their first scream outside the womb is the best music I have ever made.
have to make music because I can’t not to, because there
is nothing else I would rather do. Through the continents and life experiences,
I am finally home.
Follow; Svetlana & The Delancey Five
Get Svetlana's music: http://svetlanajazz.bandcamp.com/