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 Arkadi Severnyi

Born:   March 12, 1939
Deceased:   April 12, 1980

singer of Russian chanson


Arkadi Severnyi (Zvezdin) (1939-1980) is one of the most legendary and popular singers in the history of Russian chanson of the second half of the 20th century. An inborn singer who never studied vocal or guitar playing he succeeded in creating a unique artistic image of a legendary vagabond, reveler, and hellbender, a dweller of city outskirts. He was a prohibited singer whose songs were illegally distributed all around Russia. Severniy was only performing others songs, but lots of his repertoire may seem to be his authorship. The artiste acquired his fame at underground concerts given at some of his friends apartments.

Arkadi Severnyi Arkadi Dmitrievich Zvezdin was born on March 12, 1939 in the town of Ivanovo. He loved singing and playing the seven-stringed guitar since he was a schoolboy and was really good at it. He sang everything from jazz to folk songs and criminal songs. By chance he was noticed by Rudolf Fux, a shady businessman (nowadays he would be called a producer) who made the first records of Severny singing. It was something! No one else had such a voice and no native Odessa dweller could sing Odessa songs so naturally and genuinely as Severnyi did. While recording Arkadi Severnyi used to comment on his songs with words like We, in Odessa, When I was in Odessa These remarks and Severnyis Odessa-stylized manner made his listeners think that he came from Odessa (a seaport city, a melting pot of cultures considered the homeland of Russian chanson). It was just a few years before his death that Severniy visited Odessa he had sung so much about.

Arkadi Severnyi Russian chanson (aka blatnyak, springing from prison life and criminal world) did not compete with bard song as if living in a parallel dimension. On the one hand, chanson was more clandestine and brutal, on the other hand, it was more open, as it was sung not by a bonfire only, but in restaurants also, not only to a guitar accompaniment, but with orchestras. Quite a number of this genre performers enjoyed popularity: Severnyi, the Zhemchuzhny Brothers, Vladimir Shandrikov, Alexander Shevalovskii, Kostya Belyaev, etc., some of them later emigrated: Victor Shulman, Mikhail Shufutinsky, and Willy Tokarev. If bards (including Galich, and Vysotsky) considered Alexander Vertinsky their genres precursor, then Severnyi and his colleagues found Leonid Utesov with his simpler songs more kindred. Here lies a very important difference between bard songs and chanson.

Arkadi Severnyi The repertoire of Arkadi Severnyi included around a thousand songs, and most of them he knew by heart, from childhood boasting a wonderful memory. He sang songs of various genres and by various authors, including Vladimir Vysotsky, Alexander Dolsky, Alexander Vertinsky, Alexander Galich, Yuz Aleshkovsky, Lobanovsky Alexander, from the repertoire of Leonid Utesov, Pyotr Leshenko, Vadim Kozin. He also performed songs by unknown authors, the songs that actually became folk songs. One cannot find any open political protest in his songs: Arkadi avoided politics and had nothing to do with it. The role of a rebel did not attract him.

Arkadi Severnyi Russian men of genius, such as the writer Venedikt Erofeyev (1939-1990), the poet and singer Vladimir Vysotsky (1938-1980), and Arkadi Severnyi drank heavily; they wanted it and could not help it. That was their choice, conscious and pernicious.

Arkadi Severnyi died on April 12, 1980 at just another booze-up. Few of the admirers of Severnyis talent saw him alive, but his voice is known to many. This voice is still alive today. It can be heard from old tapes and new CDs. Arkadi Severnyi is alive, with that second life given only to the Talent.



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