Posts Tagged ‘Marilyn Bergman’

logoTinatin Interview – The Georgian Times 03.03.2009

“It is definitely one of my goals to finally return to my roots when the time is right and introduce myself to my audience back home as “one of their own.”

Probably most Georgians would feel proud to hear that over the Atlantic a 24-year-old girl, Tinatin Japaridze, is on her way to reaching the heights of two careers: as a writer and a musician. Heralded by Billboard Magazine as one of the “fresh faces to keep an eye out for in 2008,” she was a finalist in the worldwide John Lennon Song Contest and her song “Wild” was hailed as a 2007 year-end Billboard Top 10 Critics’ Pick.

Years ago in London Tinatin, together with Christopher Neil who is also her Executive Producer and Vocal Producer and Oskar Pall Sveinsson wrote a song called “Is It True?” which has become Iceland’s Eurovision Song Contest Entry for 2009. The song won the national finals by a staggering 44% and will be competing with at the international finals to be held in Russia in May.

Tinatin’s music career began in 1998 when she auditioned with Professor Luigi Alva at La Scala and was offered a place at the Academy. At 14, she began classical vocal lessons with renowned Maestro Gocha Bezhuashvili, who has worked with La Scala, The Metropolitan Opera and Covent Garden. In the summer of 1998, Tinatin was invited to open the 1st Festival of Russian Films in Cannes and was then asked by the Mayor of Nice to close the annual Carnival of Flowers with her version of Jacques Brel’s “Quand On Na Que L’Amour.”

Three years later, she went to London to study journalism—and while there, launched her first promotional tour, organized by Event One, Jeff Chegwin and Yegor Shishkovsky, the latter of whom is a widely popular Russian-born journalist and radio personality. Live performances and TV/radio interviews with Tinatin were featured on BBC, Channel 5 and ITV’s “London Tonight,” where Capital FM’s Neil “Doctor” Fox referred to her as having a “really fantastic and beautiful voice. She’s unbelievable. It’s a voice that you would want people to put money behind.”

Born in Georgia and raised in Moscow, Tinatin has written in Russian for the leading Russian Newspaper in America, in English for the United Nations (where she is the United Nations Radio Correspondent) and in Georgia she has both written and been written about – including a story about her in Cosmopolitan – for which Cambridge Jones, the UK’s top photographer, took portraits.

Tinatin is currently working on two literary projects, fiction and non-fiction. Her songs are top hits on UK Radio stations and in clubs. Catapulting into mainstream success with a current dance/club hit in the UK, “Thinking of Someone Else,” Tinatin is adding final touches to her debut album with a number of the industry’s top producers and scribes.

As her collaborator Sahin has described, Tinatin’s voice is very soft and just floats over the music. The basis for this, he believes, could be the Georgian culture she is coming from.

“One of the highlights of my early days came when I was asked by my all-time heroes, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, to perform ‘A Piece of Sky’ from ‘Yentl’ at the Creative Arts Awards honouring Marilyn, who alongside her husband wrote some of the most touching and beautiful lyrics that I was brought up listening to,” says Tinatin. That performance marked her American debut, where she was presented to Mayor Rudy Giuliani and consummate Broadway composer Cy Coleman by the legendary conductor, arranger and composer Marvin Hamlisch, and accompanied by jazz piano great Mike Renzi.

To find out more about Tinatin we took our chance to ask her several questions as well:

Q: What are your expectations concerning Johanna Gudrun Jonsdottir, as you are the co-writer of her Eurovision song with Oskar Pall Sveinsson and Christopher Neil?

A: My long-time collaborators Oskar Paul Sveinsson, Christopher Neil and I co-wrote Is It True? several years ago in London as one of the few songs recorded for my pending album at the time. As often happens in creative situations, we somehow ended up putting the song aside after its completion. Many songs and years later, I got a call from Oskar asking if I had any objections to his idea of submitting it for this year’s preselection process in Reykjavik.

In an announcement made by RÚV Television, just over 69,000 votes were cast by the public when they chose our song as the nation’s representative out of the 217 entries. It was so unexpected – Chris Neil was away and Oskar was in hospital, so you can only imagine our excitement when the news finally arrived!

As for my expectations of the ESC finals in Moscow, it’s very hard to predict the outcome at this point – had you asked me last year if I was planning to participate in Eurovision 2009, I would have rolled my eyes and said, “I doubt it”, for no reason other than the simple fact that planning anything ahead of time is nearly always a complete waste of energy!

Thanks to Oskar, we discovered the wonderfully gifted and beautiful Johanna, and she did a great job! As a singer, I was inevitably “picky” but couldn’t find a single flaw in Johanna’s performance, which in itself was extremely gratifying. I think she’s got a lot to offer at this year’s competition, so we’re very proud and definitely very much looking forward to it!

Q: Currently you are writing an autobiography, will it be available for Georgian readers?

A: This autobiography is definitely something I have long wanted to write, but now more than ever before, it seems like the right moment for me to share my story, which will be published in the UK later this year.

Hopefully, it will resonate with my compatriots, as in many ways this book also represents my journey from Tbilisi, my hometown, to Moscow where I moved at the age of nine, and my final destination – the United States of America, where I’ve been living for the past four and a half years.

Q: When did you obtain Russian citizenship and what was the reason for this?

A: We moved to Moscow in the early 90’s during the upheaval in Georgia when my dad, the architect and painter Givi Japaridze, was offered the opportunity to pursue his professional career in Russia.

It was the beginning of a difficult transition, but it was also a challenge that I chose to embrace, along with many other Georgian émigrés in Moscow at the time. I pursued my studies at the International School of Tomorrow and at the Moscow State University, until I finally moved abroad: first stop – London for several years, and only later – New York.

Q: You’re at #2 on the Dance Radio Top 25 along with Madonna, Donna Summer and Jennifer Hudson with the song “Thinking of Someone Else,” how do you intend to continue catching the attention of your fans?

A: To be honest, that’s a very tricky question! I’ve often been told that a lot of twists and turns that I took in my early career have never really followed a set pattern of a debutante – it all happened ”upside down”.

For example, while most artists become involved in political issues much later, a couple of years ago, the former President of the UN Correspondents’ Association, Ian Williams, suggested that I compose a piece of music based on the United Nations Charter as a one-of-a-kind ”UN song”. Less than a year later, I was standing onstage at the UN Headquarters singing “We the Peoples” at the request of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, honoring Sir Richard Branson. It suddenly dawned on me that yes, sometimes we do have the craziest ideas, and yes, everyone will tell you not to do it, but with a little bit of luck, effort and belief, everything is within our reach – even the most insane and ridiculous fantasies!

I suppose trying to calculate the next move, no matter how predictable, is one of the most difficult tasks for me. And while my heart inevitably lies in contemporary music, I consider classical training and particularly bel canto to be an absolute must for any vocalist in any given genre; and needless to say, Maestro Gocha Bezhuashvili has certainly become one of my most trusted mentors.

Q: Do you plan any tours in the future and would Georgia be one of the countries on the list?

A: It is definitely one of my goals to finally return to my roots when the time is right and introduce myself to my audience back home as “one of their own.” The fact that this has not yet happened was certainly not my decision.

These days, I often get fan mail from young Georgian people asking me why I still haven’t made any effort to appear publicly in Georgia and have somehow managed to remain the country’s “best-kept secret for much too long”… I admit that singing foreign songs and working on an English-language project did not necessarily work in my favour in Tbilisi. Some accused me of unpatriotic tendencies, while others simply didn’t care much for American songs sung by a Georgian girl who was being produced by some of the leading European and American scribes and producers. Why? Because I wasn’t singing in Georgian!

I have to be honest and say that, to a certain extent, I was slightly disappointed by the unexpected reaction of my fellow Georgians. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our compatriots achieving success and recognition in other parts of the world – if anything, doesn’t their popularity abroad promote our own country and its citizens beyond the ramifications of geography and politics?

Eka Bilanishvili
2009.03.03 18:55


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We, those who love music and have made it a significant part of our lives, more often than not tend to have an all-time favorite piece of music, and even more so, a soundtrack that becomes an life-long companion throughout the years. It can often take on a new meaning each time. However, in other cases, it becomes a time machine, a rare catalyst that carries intangible memories within itself that entice all sorts of recollections in the slightest, most trivial details and beyond.

My personal soundtrack that keeps bringing back so many long lost sensations and memories and creating new ones along the way will always be the one that moved me so deeply on the very day I heard it as a 12-year-old girl in Eastern Europe…And ironically, the film and its script where also based in the same part of the world… For those of you who haven’t guessed – it’s “Yentl”.

The very first time I went into a professional recording studio to record my initial EP, which I refer to as my “first steps” nowadays, I recorded a version of “The Way He Makes Me Feel”. It was shortly followed by “A Piece of Sky” – a song that meant the world to me from the start. As I was singing it in the vocal booth, I knew it would become a very special one for me. Having just lost my grandfather whom I absolutely adored, the song took a completely different, more profound meaning in my heart which ultimately transmitted itself on tape… And what you hear on this page is the same demo I made that same night.

Little did I know, that just over a year later, I would be rehearsing the same song with the original writer, Alan Bergman, for the upcoming tribute show in honor of his wife and songwriting partner – the amazing Marilyn Bergman.

(By clicking here you can read more about this incredible, unforgettable experience that I will always cherish very close to my heart. To watch the video of the rehearsal, please click on this link To see the performance at the tribute show, follow the highlight …)

And as one of my new friends here in this online universe pointed out as a part of his status, “If YOU can conceive it, YOU can achieve it…” And it is so true.

May this power of one’s dream never leave our hearts and minds.

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The other day, I accidentally came across a selection of demos from years ago that had been sent to me by my former U.S. agent in the early days back when I still lived in Russia. The compilation included original songs by the likes of Denise Rich, Andy Marvel, Peter Zizzo, etc. I am always staggered by the power of music and how a mere 3-4 min song is able to untangle such a variety of memories, including the most vivid images, scents and the most trivial, minuscule details… Incredible but true.

I had barely turned 15 when my manager at the time, Yegor Shishkovsky (see: “A Voice on the Radio”) sent me a casual email from a holiday resort in New Zealand to let me know that he had just met a vacationing couple from NY who happened to be in the same industry… “And guess what? One of Peter’s artists has just recorded a new EP which also happens to include a rendition of ‘The Way He Makes Me Feel’!” Being a huge fan of Michel Legrand and Alan & Marilyn Bergman, this song was one of the very first studio recordings I had made. Yegor happened to have a copy of my version with him in NZ and the managers swapped CDs on the spot before parting ways.

As it happens, a couple of months down the line, after exchanging numerous emails and phone calls, Peter and Yegor decided to work out a co-management deal and Peter flew over to London for 24-hours during my promotional tour for a quick meet ‘n greet.

A few weeks later, I was on my way to New York to perform at the Alan & Marilyn Bergman tribute show – an unbelievable dream come true for a Soviet teenager who grew up loving the Bergman songs and adoring their collaboration with a true idol and childhood icon, Barbra Streisand.

Shortly upon my arrival, I met my vocal coach, Danny Madden who trained me throughout my trip and rehearsed “A Piece of Sky” from “Yentl” during the initial period at the Elaine Kaufman Cultural Center… I was getting so carried away, I was living a dream – and it was just he beginning!

Within days, I was working with Mike Renzi, the legendary pianist (Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, etc.) at the ASCAP Headquarters in NY…

On Friday, 9th of June, I stepped into the ASCAP building yet once again for another rehearsal; however, it turned out to be a rather extraordinary one. While I was belting out one of the highest notes of the song, a tall, slim man opened the door and came in quietly. He remained silent throughout the rest of the song.

I felt my hands sweating as I realized that Alan Bergman himself – the same Alan Bergman in all the Streisand photos, videos, etc. – was present in the room. After I sang the song, Mr. Bergman gave me warm applause along with a few sweet comments and some very constructive suggestions. We had a very long conversation about various topics, from modern artists (fascinating!) to the family in California (see: YouTube video “A Piece of Sky” rehearsal.) He even sang several of his songs me and my parents, who, as always, were there to share that very special moment with me. I could hardly believe it, honestly!

The preparations for the tribute show were in full blow! The icing on the cake was a late-night phone call from Peter Herman… I almost fell off the bed…

“Sorry to wake you up, just wanted to let you know that Marvin Hamlisch will be introducing you to the audience tomorrow night!”

Oh my GOD!

As I stood onstage at The Pierre Ballroom and pronounced the opening remarks and thank-you’s, I still couldn’t believe my eyes… Everything inside me was trembling and I still managed to keep myself composed “Can’t mess up now!” I thought… The funny thing is, thanks to my amazing dad, the video of the event is actually on YouTube, so every time I look at it, I relive the moment. It was one of those moments when you so want to stop the hands of time and keep turning them backwards! I was so blown away… And meeting all these heroes of mine after the performance was all the more exciting… For a teenager, it was quite a challenge to be handled with care 🙂

I was so thrilled to hear from Marilyn again when I joined ASCAP a couple of years ago. It’s so rare when people of such caliber touch your life so deeply – nothing can erase that, I swear.

A couple of days later, I found myself at the home studio of Denise Rich who was mega popular at the time – everyone who was anyone in the modern pop world had a Denise Rich song under their belt. I was rushed into the studio to record one of her songs co-written with Peter Zizzo and Andy Marvel (clips from the recording session are also on YouTube!) called “Everything”. It was fun to meet Denise, she came to hear the comp on the last day and I still remember bringing her a Faberge souvenir from Russia (mind you, the Bergman’s got a painting from my dad with a special dedication – can’t beat that!)

At that point, I was so blown away by the whole experience of the 2-week trip, I was beginning to lose the plot, literally! It’s so easy to get used to everything at such young age. I actually think by then I had start to take it all for granted!

The Bergman show was followed by proposals to get into the whole Broadway scene, including the suggestion made by Marvin Hamlisch to Peter Herman. I was reluctant, even though I had been in love with this music all of my life.

One night I went to see “Cabaret” with my parents and spent some time backstage… I was so disappointed in the “theater life” – maybe it was a bad night – but I really didn’t enjoy witnessing the ins and outs of it, I thought I was too young to dive into that world and I felt I wasn’t ready to give up my “pop” dreams… I wanted to learn to write, work with specific record producers and funny enough, by the end of the trip, I did not want to live in NY and instead chose to move to London.

It’s quite bizarre but I believe that anything that comes too easily can’t be appreciated half as much as when you’ve actually “fought” with all your might and effort for that dream. There were a lot of “politics” mainly on the personal front (still within the musical scope) involved in making my decision to move to London, and to be honest, I did regret making that hasty move too quickly on a teenage whim at first, but now that I find myself living and making my dreams come true in the same NYC and mingling and collaborating with the people I could have only admired from a distance, I’m really, really thrilled. It took so much time, effort and sweat to get from A to B, but I do appreciate and value the experiences along the way. I had to go out of my way to get back on track with the same people that were pretty much hand-delivered to me on a silver plate initially, but there is a strange thrill of “self-realization” when you achieve those bits and pieces by yourself.

The initial NY trip was magical and I am grateful for every single memory and experience that I derived from it… And yet, I had to learn the hard way, and I do honestly feel so blessed… Not meant as a cliché, I promise – I guess it’s all a learning curve… As long as one remains true to himself/herself – not an easy task in this industry, and probably everywhere else in this day and age.

And by the way, teenagers can be such spoilt brats 🙂 Maturity can be so helpful, and what a shame it only comes with age…

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