Zlata Ognevich: Ukraine’s Butterfly

Zlata Ognevich and her song Gravity was one of the standout performances at Eurovision 2013, finishing the contest in a very respectable third place. Zlata impressed audiences around the globe with her spectacularly powerful voice and contagiously energetic performance of the musical theater-inspired melody, Gravity.

Zlata Ognevich is just starting to attain recognition across Europe and the rest of the world thanks to her stunning performance at Malmö, but in her home country, Ukraine, she’s already a star. She’s been well known in the country for a number of years, having previously tried to crack the extremely competitive Ukrainian selection spot for Eurovision in both 2010 and 2011, coming second in 2011 with her song ‘The Kukushka’ but losing out only to Mika Newton. Take a look at her performance for that Ukrainian spot in 2011.

This year, though, she managed to achieve the elusive success of representing Ukraine at Eurovision, representing Ukraine with her song Gravity, an inspiring, uplifting and powerful tune that some (we here at Coconut Daily) believe should have been the winner.

Her Upbringing

She was born in the northwestern Russian city of Murmansk in 1986, one of Russia’s westernmost cities, being only a few hundred kilometres to Finland and the rest of Scandinavia. She grew up, however, in the town of Sudak, an historic and charming Crimean port town on the Black Sea, as her father was a surgeon on a Soviet submarine and was transferred to the area in 1991. The move to Sudak ignited her obsession with water, as she developed a love for swimming and diving, and she would often run away from home for days at a time as a child to explore the many rocky cliffs and outcrops of the Ukrainian coastal town.

It was during her exploration of the beautiful coastal regions of the Crimean coast as a youth that she developed her long for singing, as her lonely jaunts would often take her to imposing, sheer cliff faces on which her voice would reverberate as if amplified by nature itself, and so she began practicing singing in the mountains, strengthening her voice each day until she was able to hold high notes for minutes at a time. “I formed myself as an artist and musician in Crimea,” Zlata said of her childhood. “I went into the mountains, created lyrics and music, I would talk with birds and with the Earth. It helped me to be stronger.”

Zlata then moved to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv at the age of 18, starting her professional career. She enrolled at the R.M. Glier Kyiv State Higher Music College, a prestigious musical school in Kyiv and the first professional musical education institute in the whole of Ukraine, where she worked with teachers who helped to develop and cultivate her already impressive voice. After this, she studied at the Kyiv Institute of Music, specializing in jazz music, which also helped to build her on-stage persona and confidence in performing. Zlata also enrolled in the Ukrainian national State Song and Dance Ensemble, a well-known performance ensemble in which she is still enrolled as a soloist.

Her Song Releases

Zlata had already released several successful singles prior to her performance at Eurovision 2013. One of these, ‘Angels’, a smash hit in Ukraine and Russia, is an enchanting and soul-stirring piece, written by famous Russian composer Mikhail Nekrasov and backed by a full symphony orchestra. The song exposes a different side of Zlata’s voice than we saw in Gravity; whereas that song highlighted her remarkable power and vocal flexibility, Angels emphasizes a delicate, softer side to her voice.

Another of Zlata’s songs, Far, is a beautiful, classically-inspired piece with a gorgeous blend of delicately strummed guitars, powerful, emotion-laden pianos and backed again by a full symphony orchestra. The song is represented by a brilliant music video, shot by French director Didier Daubeach, previously known for his work shooting major commercials for Dior, Renault, Siera, Coca Cola and L’Oreal, among others. If anything, Far demonstrates that Zlata is far more than your average bubblegum pop singer.

One of her earliest songs, Island of Love, is another co-written by Mikhail Nekrasov, along with Russian poet Lyubov Voropaeva. Island of Love was a massive success in Russia and Ukraine, captivating audiences with the amazing vocal performance exhibited by Zlata.

What’s on the horizon for Zlata is not yet known, but after her brilliant performance at Eurovision 2013, one thing’s for certain – she has a whole lot more eyes fixated on her next move now and a new legion of dedicated fans.

Image credits: Zlata Ognevich FB

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