Armenia’s AMPTV has revealed that French-Armenian singer, songwriter and keyboardist Essaï Altounian is the first of six artists who will make up its Eurovision Supergroup Genealogy. “I’m really proud to represent Armenia,” he said of the news. “To be a part of the Genealogy means something powerful to me. It is like being a link between the past and the future, a link between earth and sky.”
It’s not just talk, as he has a deep, personal connection to the Armenian Genocide. Here’s how AMPTV described his connection in a message sent to wiwibloggs:
His grandparents escaped from Kharpet during the Armenian Genocide. At the age of 5 his grandfather Nechane escaped from Der zor desert after his mother and sisters were killed in front of him. He walked alone in the desert when some Bedouins found him crying and decided to keep him. At the age of 18 he met a cousin in market by chance and moved to France to live with his other cousins that survived. In France he met Essai’s grandmother, learned French and worked hard for his family.
Essaï composed his first song when he was 12 years old. As a 19-year-old — while studying law at university — he inked a deal with Sony France as the lead singer of Ideal-3, an urban pop group. Their song “Pardonne-moi” received massive airplay and they performed on countless TV and radio shows.
But at 21 Essaï decided to leave the group to pursue a solo career, securing a deal with Mercury Universal. He collaborated with artists including Jennifer — her album earned a Diamond Plaque — and he soon found himself performing and composing in musical theatre. An early break was taking on the role of Count Paris in the musical comedy Romeo and Juliet, which was the brainchild of popular French composer Gerard Presgurvic. Its album sold two million copies. He earned fans in high places, including France’s First Lady Bernadette Chirac. After serving as the musical director for several French TV shows — including “L’Ecole des fans” and “La Bataille des chorales” — he decided to go trans-Atlantic, collaborating with Kerry Gordy from Motown music.
His recent song “Je n’oublie pas / ChemMorana” is dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
“With Genealogy I’m one of the bridges connecting Armenian people around the world. I am also one of the bridges who are spreading love and positivity around the world through music. I represent Armenians from Europe – the continent of human rights and peace. I want to send a powerful message of humanity and serenity on behalf of European Armenians. I wish that people all around the world realize that Armenians will always climb on the higher mountains to sing, dance and spread joy and happiness.”
Last week AMPTV revealed that Genealogy will unite various members of the Armenian Diaspora. Five of the acts will come from abroad — and more specifically Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and North America — while a sixth will represent the Motherland Armenia. This is represented visually through a forget-me-not flower, which marks the centenary of the Armenian Genocide. Its five petals represent five of members of the Armenian Diaspora, while the centre represents the artist in Armenia.
The following map teases the artists’ current location, and has led us to speculate that Essai, Inga Arshakyan, Tamar Kaprelian, Athena Manoukian, Vahe Tilbian, and Stephanie Topalian make up the group. So far, so good!