© 2018 Miraif, Мариам Мерабова

Mariam was born in Yerevan on January 28th, 1972 in the family of Tbilisi Armenians. Being a lawyer, her father was a musically gifted person. Her mother was engaged in journalism. From the early childhood, Mariam grew up in an atmosphere of love for music.  Her grandma played the piano magnificently and sang lyrical songs. From the age of five, Mariam studied at the Central Music School named after Tchaikovsky in Yerevan, then later in the 80th her family moved to Moscow, where she continued to attend piano classes at the Gnesins’ school.

 

After meeting the outstanding teacher Irina Georgievna Turusova, Mariam moved to the school named after Myaskovsky from which she has graduated with honors. Later on she continued her studies at the college of the Moscow Conservatory, but did not finish it, as fate has made its own adjustments.

 

One day her friends invited Mariam to the cult and at that time a unique jazz club in Moscow ‘The Blue Bird’. For the first time, Mariam has discovered the new music for herself and fell in love with the freedom, improvisation, harmony and the rhythm of it. The decision made was instant and irreversible: the next day, Mariam left the college. To be able to listen and absorb the new music daily, she approached the club's director Vartan Tonoyan who has in fact hired her to work in (!) wardrobe. But the goal has been achieved and from that moment Mariam had a chance to listen to all those fantastic compositions at the concerts.

 

And how could it happen otherwise, while such masters as Victor Dvoskin, Mikhail Alperin, Vyacheslav Nazarov, Igor Bril, Sergei Manukyan, Nikolai Levinovsky were creating at one and the same place, and this list could be continued indefinitely! Could she ever imagine that destiny would bring all these talented people into her life. A year later, Mariam entered the pop and jazz class of the college named after the Gnesins. Unexpectedly, even for herself, she chose the vocal class and in 1996, Miriam graduated from the college with honours and was marked for the outstanding A+ results by the examination committee headed by the People's Artist of the Russian Federation, Professor of the Russian Academy of Music Igor Brill.

 

But her main reward came as a proposal to give a joint performance from Igor Brill. It goes without saying this was a baptism of fire followed by step-by-step professional development of her talent. The rumors about a young talented singer have spread quickly amongst the jazz community. Marian was distinguished for her impeccable sense of performance, and thus offers from Alexey Kozlov, Sergei Manukyan, Vyacheslav Gorsky, Boris Kurganov, Oleg Kireev, Grigory Fine, band ‘Trans Atlantic’ were not long to come.

Right after her graduation from the school, Mariam started to work as a back vocalist at various studios and with different celebrities. For about two years Mariam worked together with Nikolai Noskov, and, as she said, it was a very important experience, which put an end to her ‘dependence’ of the voice and revealed a freedom of sound reproduction for her.

 

Starting from 1998, Mariam began to work in jazz project ‘MIRAIF’ (Miraif if a derivative from the saying in Russian which stands for’world in a rush’) together with her future husband, the jazz pianist and composer Armen Merabov, son of the famous conductor and composer in the Soviet era (known for his composition ‘Robot’ performed by A.Pugacheva's and M.Magomayev's pop orchestra).

It was in1999, at the House of Composers, that the People's Artist of Russia, member of the Composers’ Union Yuri Saulsky introduced ‘MIRAIF’ as a new and promising jazz project. Nowdays, this group has securely established itself on the jazz stage along with the most famous names. The group’s concerts are always held in full house and one can always see prominent public figures representing various fields of culture, science and politics amongst its fans and admirers.

 

Presentation of the first album of  ‘MIRAIF’ ‘Thebridge’, released on the label of ‘Bohemia Music’ in 2000 was a huge success. In 2004, Mariam and ‘MIRAIF’ recorded the next album named Intelligent Music. At the moment, the third ‘authors’ album is being prepared with Armen Merabov being the copywriter and composer of most of the compositions.

 

In addition to the fact that Mariam is a continuous voice of the band, in this album she revealed herself to the listeners as the author of lyrics and music. It is also quite unusual that some songs were performed in Russian language. So this is exactly what is considered to be the main ‘mission’ – to create a bridge between the languages by means of jazz.

 

Extract from the Mariam's interview for a Russian channel: ‘I have no fear of singing in native language and I do not quite understand the biased attitude of many of our jazzmen in this regards. It seems to me that there is no awkward phonetics, but there are tuneless musicians. We live and create in this country and wish to remain extremely honest with our listeners. Jazz is merely a style in music and a manner of performance, and it's still important for us not to revel in our own ego, but to be understood by our spectators who mostly do not understand either English or Portuguese. It is important that, in addition to enjoying the musical ornament, the listener comprehends the semantic load. It is important to associate the spectator’s comprehension of the music through a meaningful understanding ‘.

In 2004, Mariam received a unique offer from Russian producers to take part in a new project - the musical ‘We Well Rock You’. Mariam was offered one of the main roles of Killer Queen.

 

The musical was composed by the legendary Queen musicians Brian May and Roger Taylor in commemoration of the unforgettable vocalist of the band Freddie Mercury. The musicians personally came to Russia for the final round of castings and affirmed Mariam for the role of Killer Queen in the first lineup. Moreover, at the after party in the Kremlin, Mariam has been selected to perform a solo composition together with the great musicians.

 

After the concert, Brian May said: ‘You are the owner of a unique voice with a strongly distinctive stage charisma. I am very glad that this role has been entrusted to you’.  In the opinion of Brian May, out of all Russian singers, it was only Mariam Merabova who was able to really perform the most complex part of ‘Killer Queen’ in the musical ‘We will rock you’, which musicians of the band ‘Queen’ have been staging all over the world for many years. Although the musical lasted for only six months, it was not in vain as it was a lucky chance for her to meet the legendary world-class musicians.

 

The same year Mariam began a joint engagement with the jazz band ‘Trans Atlantic’ and its leader Sergei Chipenko. The group often performs At the Nikitsky Gates Theater withi the framework of the festival ‘Jazz in the open air’, also touring and preparing a program for participation in the jazz festival in Arkhangelsk Usadba Jazz.

The album of participants released within the framework of this festival included the original version of the song ‘Everything must change’ by Quincy Jones and was performed by Mariam and ‘Trans Atlantic’ band.  After the joint performance of the band ‘Trans Atlantic’ and Fill Perry (the legendary American soul singer along with such singers as Lion Ricci, George Benson, Michael Bolton) at the House of Music the singer was so pleasantly surprised at the level of Mariam’s  singing, which he had also heard on the disc, that  he decided to share it with his friend, the great composer, conductor and producer Quincy Jones (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder), who in his turn did not hesitate to immediately send a message to Sergei Chipenko (the leader of the group ‘Trans Atlantic’): ‘I consider your version one of the best that I have ever heard.’

In 2005, the Trans Atlantic band gave a concert at the House of Music together with the famous saxophonist Eric Marienthal (who has long time worked with the famous Chick Corea), and Mariam was once again invited to represent the Russian vocal jazz school. Eric Marienthal was very delighted and assured the singer that it would be his pleasure to encounter her on the stage once again. In general, the fact that more and more jazz musicians from all over the world visit our country with concerts provides more wonderful opportunities for Russian jazzmen.

 

It was in the club ‘Blue Bird’ that Mariam and Armen Merabov played together with the oldest representative of the style of b-bop saxophonist Ricci Cole and Dutch trumpeter Saskia Lara. Talking about Armen Merabov and Mariam Ricci Cole said: ‘You are in possession of one of the most important things - the spirit of jazz!’.

 

Two great concerts took place at the House of Music in 2005, one of which was a chamber performance of the musical for children ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. The same year, a 1-hour radio bridge live broadcast took place in New York with the participation of the band ‘MIRAIF’ and Mariam as part of the program by Oleg Frish“Music poster from Oleg Frish”. According to the program host, judging by the number of phone calls the broadcast was not just successful, but phenomenal. In the past the program hosted Bi King, Brenda. Lee, Ima Sumak, Chaka Khan, John Kander - the author of the musicals ‘Chicago’, ‘Cabaret’, ‘New York, New York’.

 

There were also two wonderful saxophonists Alexander and Dmitry Brill, sons of the famous jazz pianist Igor Brill, who invited Mariam to take part in the concert where the famous French comedian Pierre Richard performed with his own sons and their band. For his part, Pierre Richard especially noted the distinctive staginess and special ability of the singer to captivate the emotions of the audience, as if carrying them away.

 

Mariam Merabova has repeatedly performed as a back vocalist at the Eurovision Contest together with Dima Bilan, (Russia) in Athens, with Dmitry Koldun (Belorussia) in Finland, with Ani Lorak (Ukraine) in Serbia and with Eva Rivas (Armenia) in Oslo.

 

Since 2008, Mariam and Armen Merabov have been the residents of  ‘Jazz Port’ project. ‘It goes without saying that we could not breathe without  this’ brotherhood ‘and were impatiently waiting when we meet at ‘ Jazz Port ‘ again, says Mariam.

In 2014, Mariam Merabova accepted the invitation of the Diva of the Russian stage and has been successfully teaching at the School of Professional Creative Development of Alla Pugacheva until 2015.

 

Another twist in Mariam's career occurred in the summer of 2014, when she applied to participate in the third season of the TV project ‘Voice’ on Channel One and became one of the brightest participants of the project. Her debut performance took place on September 19th, 2014 when the whole country heard the immortal hit ‘Georgia On My Mind’ in the original performance of the singer. As part of Leonid Agutin’s team, Mariam reached the final of the project and took the 4th place.

After the ‘Voice’ project, in addition to the faithful and loyal fans the whole country was enjoying the talent of Mariam Merabova, which made it possible to organize a number of successful concerts on the most prominent venues in Russia and Europe.

 

Thus, on April 14, 2015, the first solo concert of Miriam and group ‘MIRAIF’ took place in the Chamber Hall of the Moscow International House of Music with the program ‘EKLEKTIKA’.The best among friends”, ‘which was later followed by a concert on the stage of the Theater Hall on November 10th, 2015.

Hardly had the noise of applause subsided after the Moscow concert at the House of Music on November 10th when on November 20th, 2015 it was followed by full house at a solo concert of Mariam and ‘MIRAIF’ in the Urals State Variety Theater.

 

And already on November 13th, 2016 the program ‘A hundred of hours of Happiness’ gathered the full Svetlanovsky Hall of the Moscow International House of Music.

 

In January 2016, the film ‘Voices of a Great Country’ (directed by Tair Mammadov, music producer and arranger Anton Belyaev) was released on the screens, in which Mariam appeared before the audience in the role of a singer Aida Romanova giving the audience an unforgettable performance of the  song ‘Wind of change’ together with George Ufa and of course, ‘Love, like a dream’ Music:Igor Krutoy,  lyrics:Valeria Gorbacheva. Orchestration: Vyacheslav Serzhanov Arrangement: Anton Belyaev. The recording of the London Philharmonic Orchestra was performed at the legendary studio ‘Abby Road’.

 

In the same year of 2016, Mariam Merabova has been entrusted to vocalize the grandmother of Moana - Talu in the full-feature cartoon by Walt Disney Animation Studios ‘Moana’ and to perform the songs ‘Native home’ and ‘I am Moana’.

 

Mariam also fruitfully collaborates with:

- the State Jazz Music Orchestra named after Lundstrem which accompanied her on the stage of the Kremlin Palace of Congresses at a concert dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the legendary jazz musician, composer, orchestra leader Oleg Leonidovich Lundstrem);

- the Symphony Orchestra of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, conducted by the Honored Artist of Russia, Colonel Sergei Durygin  which accompanied her in the performance of the stage of the Column Hall of the House of Unions at a concert dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Oleg Lundstrem;

- the Central Concert Orchestra of the Russian Police under the supervision of the artistic director and chief conductor the Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, Colonel Felix Aranovsk y which  accompanied Mariam and Armen Merabov when they performed ‘A Hundred Hours of Happiness’ as part of the ‘Romance of the Lyrical Song’ program.

 

As a result of successful cooperation with the ‘Melody’ Fund and together with the Center named after Tatyana Shmyga, Mariam has repeatedly appeared on the stage of the Column Hall of the House of Unions accompanied by the Double-Red Banner Academic Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army named after A.V. Alexandrov (at that time conducted by Valery Khalilov).

 

Mariam also performed together with the Central Frontier Ensemble of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation on the stage of the Svetlanovsky Hall of the Moscow International Youth Theater and on the stage of the Column Hall of the House of Unions (conductor Eugene Oleynikov) where on November 18th, 2017 the program ‘A Hundred Hours of Happiness’ has not left anyone indifferent.

 

During the year of 2016, which was an anniversary year for the great composer, conductor and pianist, Raymond Pauls, Mariam performed on the stage of the Crocus City Hall, accompanied by the orchestra ‘Phonograph Simfo Jazz’ conducted by Sergei Zhilin with the song “Return’, lyrics: I. Reznik, music: R. Pauls, and in St. Petersburg on the stage of the ‘The Old Friend’ Ice Palace.

 

After the film-musical ‘The Voices of a Great Country’, Mariam's experience as an actress in 2018 brought her to acting in the series of ‘Parents' Committee’ - director Guzel Kireeva (released in September 2018 by the TVchannel Domashny). Mariam performed the role of Marina Zavenovna.

 

Mariam and MIRAIF also tour a lot and participate in numerous jazz festivals, such as ‘Jazz Usadba Jazz’, held in the Moscow region of Arkhangelsk, Sochi, Voronezh, Yekaterinburg, International Festival of Improvisational Music in Kazan, International festival of jazz music JazzMay in Penza, Arkhangelsk, Vologda, Yaroslavl, Krasnodar, Novokuznetsk, Vladivostok, Tomsk. And not a single festival goes without the master classes that the Merabovs give away generously, releasing a piece of their creativity to young and hungry for knowledge musicians.

 

Another turn in Mariam's career took place in May 2018 and was again connected with TV Channel One - participation in the show ‘Three Chords’. She made a very important and long-awaited step for herself - she again came out of her ‘comfort zone’. For the first time it happened on the project ‘Voice’, when she performed the songs, which she had never previously thought about and which later became the most important and favorite songs in her repertoire.

 

So it happened now that after the first broadcast, where Mariam performed ‘Black Crow’, it became clear that the Mariam’s potential is unlimited. Then followed the ‘Kalina tastes bitter’, ‘The beer bar open on Bogatyanovskaya’, an unforgettable duet with Alexei Glyzin with the song ‘Ring’ and ‘Cigarette butt’ from the repertoire of Yuz Aleshkovsky, Music / lyrics: Yuz (Joseph) Aleshkovsky, and this is not a complete list of those songs that will appear in future broadcasts and we will be following the new Mariam’s skills of not only as a singer, but also as an actress.

Without opening all the cards it would be fair to say that no one expected to see such a Mariam, not even the closest ones!  What makes it most precious was how A. Rosenbaum appraised her by saying: ‘It's brilliant!’

 

The biography of this great singer, the owner of the voice which is unique in its beauty and sound has no limit and can be continued, as well as a great number of all those being in love with her creative work, those who feel that with all her heart and soul Mariam has entirely devoted  herself to music.