Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sofia Rotaru

Artist: Sofia Rotaru
LP: Sofia Rotaru
Song: "My Birthplace" 
[ listen ]

I've been hanging onto this terrific 1970s (probably?) Russian pop record for years without being able to read a single word printed on the label. Today I pointed my trusty new Google Translate app at it and voilá! Unlike Japanese, the Russian language requires no highlighting of text. As soon as I point my phone's camera at the label, the words I see just switch from Russian to English. It's like magic! I thought maybe 'CTEPEO' was the name of the singer, so I translated that first: 'STEREO'. Well, okay. I next pointed my camera at the label on side one of the record and it told me everything I needed to know. The singer's name in English flickered back and forth between "Sofia Novel," "Sofia Battalions," and "Sofia Rotaru," but a quick Google search told me which of those I was listening to.

Sofia Rotaru was born on August 7, 1947 in the Romanian-speaking village of Marshyntsi in Ukraine, near the Romanian border. She learned music from her older sister, Zina, performed in choirs at church and school, and then found early success as a folk singer after appearing in a musical film in 1966. Her husband encouraged her to switch to pop music, which caused Sofia's popularity to grow. Despite rumors in the late '70s that her voice was a product of computers, unaffected by political tensions between Ukraine and the Soviet Union, in spite of her legions of fans clamoring to know which nationality Rotaru most identifies with, and even following a brief stint in a nunnery, today Sofia Rotaru remains as popular as ever. She was the highest paid celebrity in Ukraine in both 2008 and 2010. There's lots more to read about Sofia Rotaru on Wikipedia here, and you can find this CTEPEO record's labels in both Russian and English (sort of) included below.

[ Sofia Rotaru ]

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