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Alsou Ralifovna Abramova (born on June 27, 1983) is a Russian singer. She competed in the Eurovision Song Contest 2000 in which she came in second place giving her recognition across Europe. Alsou hosted the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 held in Moscow.
Beginning of musical career
At the age of 15 Alsou was introduced to music manager Valeriy Belotserkovskiy. She again performed “I Will Always Love You” and impressed the manager. He began work with Alsou the next day. Her debut Russian album was the self-titled Alsou (Russian: Алсу́) was released September 16, 1999. It was very successful in Russia and spawned 3 singles: “Zimniy Son” (“Winter Dream”) “Vesna” (“Spring”), “Inogda” (“Sometimes”). After the huge success of Alsou’s debut Russian album she was signed to Universal Music Russia and became its first domestic artist. By 2000 more than 700.000 legal copies of CD Alsou were sold in Russia.
In 2000, Alsou recorded her first English language single “Solo” and was entered into the Eurovision Song Contest 2000, Written By Andrew Lane eventually finishing second overall. “Solo” went on to sell 100,000 copies and became the biggest selling single of all time in Russia, surpassed only by her next single, a duet with Enrique Iglesias entitled “You’re My #1”. `I really enjoyed performing with him in Kremlin and I hope our paths will cross again`.
After her success in Eurovision 2000, Alsou began a large-scale tour of Russia. She celebrated her 17th birthday by performing in her native town of Bugulma, where 86,000 of the 120,000 population gathered in the main square to see her.
During 2000–2001, Alsou began working on her debut English album also called Alsou, which was released in Russia on June 28, 2001. It was also released in Germany, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic and Malaysia.
The lead single “Before You Love Me” was released in the UK on April 30, 2001, soon after charting at #1 on MTV Select and several TV appearances by Alsou. However, it only managed to chart at #27 in the UK Singles Chart. Later that year it was released in Germany and Australia.
A follow-up single, “He Loves Me”, was released only in Germany on October 15, 2001, with limited success.
The album was cancelled in the UK, though released through 2001–2002 in several European countries and Malaysia.
Between number albums
Alsou’s debut Russian album was re-released twice – in 2001 and 2002, spawning two singles – “Osen” (“Autumn”) and “Kogda Lubov Ko Mne Pridiot” (“When Love Comes To Me”).
In the summer of 2002, Alsou began a tour of the former Soviet countries. Her new video for an up-and-coming single “Letyashaya Nad Oblakami” (“Flying Over The Clouds”) was shown in Russian cinemas before the Russian romantic movie Atlantida. Alsou had recorded two songs for the movie.
Trilogy and 19
In August 2002 more studio sessions began for a second Russian longplay. Alsou was also preparing for her concerts in Moscow at the same time. The “Trilogy” project was deemed by the local papers as one of the most “important social and cultural events”. The uniqueness of the “Trilogy” idea was that no one singer in the world had ever given three completely different performances during a period of only 10 days.
The first show was held in the “Rossiya” concert hall, where Alsou performed her old set entitled “Alsou And Her Authors”, which had never been presented in Moscow before. The second show was an exclusive orchestral concert in Tchaikovsky Hall, where there are only 1,500 seats. The third show was a Europop show entitled “Solo”. It was held in the Olympic Sport Complex and contained new Russian and English songs, with a fantasy-oriented set. After the third show, Alsou shot a video for the song “Vchera” (“Yesterday”).
On January 23, 2003, Alsou released her new Russian album entitled 19. The CD was received well by critics, and by April 2003 the sales had reached 500.000 copies. 19 spawned such singles as “Vsyo Ravno” (“Anyway”), “Vchera” (“Yesterday”), “Perviy Raz” (“The First Time”), “Mechty” (“Dreams”) feat. Karl Frierson (mixed by Pit Baumgartner from De Phazz), “Letyashchaya Nad Oblakami” (“Flying Over The Clouds”) and “Etkey” (“Father”, a Tatarstan single).
After success of 19, she was nominated for the First National Music Award, “Muz-TV”. On June 5, 2003, after arriving in Moscow from working in foreign studios, Alsou unexpectedly found herself the winner of the “Best Female Artist” nomination. The voting was held all over Russia, and Alsou could not stop the tears of joy. To support the sales of album 19, Alsou gave successful performances in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Israel and Kazakhstan.
Second English album
For almost four years, Alsou worked on her second English album ‘Inspired’. It was recorded in London and Los Angeles. The lead single, “Always On My Mind”, was written by Alsou and Morten Schjolin. The video was shot in May 2004 by well-known director Joseph Kahn. At the beginning of 2005, the single premiered on Capital FM and became the best news single of the week. However, despite the heavy UK promotion, a sexy video, touring as a support act with boyband Westlife, and performing in the London club G-A-Y, the commercial single was cancelled by Alsou’s UK label Mercury Records, though physical copies were available for a short time. ‘Inspired’ remains unreleased.
Alsou is credited on most of the tracks recorded for Inspired. The album was produced by several of the industry’s best producers including Rhett Lawrence and Bass Bros. Inspired features a cover version of Lionel Richie‘s “Hello“. Another well-circulated track is the Nelly-featured “Wish I Didn’t Know”, though only a rough demo has leaked. The album is more guitar-flavored than Alsou’s previous works. Originally it was intended to record the album with mostly ballads, but then the album’s direction changed.
At a meeting of the official Russian Alsou Fan Club in Moscow on 9 June 2013 the album ‘Inspired’ was given to the fan club members for free. The CDs were self-made by Alsou. It was the first time that the entire album came into the world.
In 2006, Alsou recorded a wedding song, “Miracles”, written by Alsou and her then-future husband Yan Abramov. It was released as a limited single for the guests of the wedding. The song is not part of the album ‘Inspired’.
The Main Thing and Tugan Tel
Alsou’s third Russian album Samoe Glavnoe (“The Main Thing”), her first LP in 5 years, was released March 31, 2008 by Universal Music Russia. The singles from this album are “Nebo” (“Sky”, released back in 2005), “Samoe Glavnoe” (“The Main Thing”, 2006, the video was shot when she was pregnant though it is not visible), “A u moei ljubvi” (“And My Love Has…”, 2007, shot in California desert and directed by Alan Calzatti). During 2008 Alsou recorded an album in Tatar language as well. Released in the fall and named Туган тел (Tugan Tel’ | Mother’s Tongue), the album includes several Tatar peoples’ songs, others written specially for Alsou, some Tatar music instruments and a choir. All proceeds were given by Alsou and Universal Music for a sponsorship of talented orphans from Tatarstan.
In June 2004, Alsou performed in the British mystical thriller Spirit Trap with Billie Piper, Luke Mably, Emma Catherwood and Sam Troughton. The film premiered in August 2005. Alsou’s self-written ballad “Teardrops” plays over the credits. The film got basically poor reviews and small returns at the box office, and it was soon released on DVD. A release of her second motion picture is awaited in 2008 – earlier in 2006 she starred in Russian historical drama “Vivat, Anna!” from a cycle of films about Russian monarchy. She also recorded a song for the movie, a melody from which serves as 1st track (Intro) of “Samoe Glavnoe”.
Alsou is currently selecting a single for her next Russian album of original songs she is working on. Currently she is also recording a double Russian album of lullabies and popular children songs. In the beginning of 2010, she started recording a jazz album with the help of George Benson. She has presented the final of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. The hosts are normally required to translate monologue in French, to which she demonstrated quite fluently for the event. Six years later, she became one of the five jurors for Russian jury panel in the Eurovision Song Contest 2015.