“She is ambitious and intelligent – in an almost extinct sense of the word.”
If our lives were compared to buildings with our experience and achievements making up levels, Irina Dorofeeva’s life in music would have already stood highly and proudly, dwarfing the neighbourhood of manors with posher facades and humble shacks. But it was not constructed overnight and her ascent was anything but a non-stop elevator ride to the top. She walked and worked all the way up. Born in the Belarusian city of Mogilev in 1977, Irina began singing professionally at the age of 12 when, all within a year, she became the lead singer for a local group and won a prestigious national contest of young talents. Two more successes – at the Slavianskiy Bazar (Slavic Bazaar) art festival in 1993 and the 1994 festival of Belarusian music and poetry in Molodechno – brought the young singer to the attention of Verasy (The Heath) pop group which she joined as a lead singer. Also in 1994 Irina was named “Discovery of the Year” in Belarus .
Her triumphant march through the national and international song contests continued throughout the rest of the 90ies. She won Golden Hit 98, Vilnius 99, Discovery 99, Vitebsk 99 and other festivals in Belarus , Lithuania , Bulgaria and Ukraine .
In 1997 to 1999 Irina worked with the Belarusian State Concert Orchestra. This period in her career also saw her widening her vocal horizons to include jazz. In February 1998 she sang with the Arkadiy Eskin Trio at the International Jazz Festival in Minsk and, later that year, took part in the jazz programme of the Slavianskiy Bazar. Her discography includes eight albums of songs in Belarusian and Russian which sold dozens of thousands of copies on CD and tape; songs from these discs made multiple newspaper and radio charts. Another two discs are to come out shortly.
Popular with the fans is her major 1999 concert on video which, upon its release, was instantaneously characterized by the press “Renaissance of Belarusian pop” as well as performed in 2003 major concert “Beloved” and 2007 show “Feast of St. John the Baptist – Fest of Four Elements. A main character in video clips for eighteen of her songs, she also starred in musical film called “Moment”; two documentaries about Irina has been completed – “Under Peaceful Sky” (2003) and “We Are Bringing You The Song” (2008). Despite the recording accomplishments and extensive radio play Irina has always remained a singer of exceptional commitment to and emphasis on live performances. Her two-year-long tour of Belarus in 2001 – 2002 set a record for this country: she played 435 concerts in most all major Belarusian cities and towns, performing before listeners whose hopes to hear a popular singer had always begun with buses and trains to bigger places. She sang to audience of several dozens of children and invalids at orphanages and hospitals as well as at the forsaken villages in Chernobyl contaminated areas just as passionately as she did to crowds of thousands in many venues throughout her own country and Europe . From the early stage of her solo career in 1996 Irina has been gravitating toward a show atmosphere on stage. For years now she has been performing with Force-Moll band managed by her long-time producer and composer Yuriy Savosh. In 2002 she had a joint project with Belarusian stars of callisthenics – the type of cooperation which is visually and musically uplifting. “I would very much like to be able to create the same atmosphere in concert as Freddie Mercury did”, Irina confesses.
the voice of Belarus
“She is not seeking cheap popularity singing one-day hits but strives for highest standards of vocal mastery.”
“Probably the most universal singer these days.”
In her early thirties Irina Dorofeeva can already rightfully claim to be the voice of her country. She represented Belarus at international festivals in Russia , Ukraine , Belgium , Germany , Luxembourg , Poland , Austria , Switzerland , Netherlands , Cyprus , Lithuania , Latvia ,
Serbia, Bulgaria and Armenia . Her voice and the songs she sings transcend the boundaries of just one culture and have been wholeheartedly embraced by the public in many countries. During her tour in Cyprus , she was offered to represent that country at the Eurovision Song Contest. “It didn’t go any further than just this half-jest of a proposal but it shows the appreciation for what I’m doing and that’s the most important thing”, she explains with a smile. In 1999 in Poland she was offered a singing stint with the Warsaw Big Band. But most importantly, Belarusian audiences regard her as a singer that is theirs not just geographically. She has in her the soul of this East European nation – the sadness of the transience of life, the torment and the rebelliousness of centuries of oppression, the releasing power of love, the joy of just having the chance to live and be in harmony with the world around you… And the composers whose songs Irina sings – Belarusians Dolgalyov, Yeryomenko, Polivoda, Neronskiy, Tolkunov, Platkov, Savosh and Ukrainian Ponomaryov – sharpen the message to the point of a lance piercing deep and in the right spot.
“Strong, expressive voice to remember … this outstanding singer has a great future.”
“I never really tried to sound exactly like someone else,” says Irina describing the stages of her vocal development. “When I took to jazz, I was looking to Ella
Fitzgerald as the vocal standard to work towards. Tina Turner is unparalleled in her overspilling energy, and Barbra Streisand is exemplary in a soft, chamber manner of communicating with the listener as if one on one. I wish I could sing like both of them.” Irina herself describes her musical style as “ethno-rock.” The singer’s assessment would pass for a moderately informative genre tag on her CDs in music stores and is certainly not something to challenge. But critics and music fans alike would note the lack of oftentimes boring uniformity that a narrow definition makes one expect. The music of Irina’s albums varies from heavier tunes with an evident presence of sympho rock to folk pop to Baroque music to Latin music. The thing that holds this seeming patchwork of styles together and molds it into a highly convincing record, sounding outstandingly integral with all its ramifications, is Irina’s soulful and gentle to pain-stricken and exploding voice, pitching to match the intense crescendo of a song. It will rock you, it will make you cry, it will make you dream, and it will make you want to listen even more.
to always have strength to sing one more
“Amazing in this singer is not even her voice but the conscious movement forward, the wish to try everything and attain her goal.”
It is impossible to imagine that she can be weak. Or that she has time to afford being weak. Her success would have been impossible without extreme focus and hard work. She reluctantly tells about an incident back in 1993, at her first Slavianskiy Bazar festival, when she stumbled and fell while on the stage. She walked with the winner from that contest and a motto for the rest of her life, “No more falling.” “My sincerest wish?” Irina repeats, becoming very thoughtful. Then her face lights up. “As years go by, I may feel exhausted and unable to go further. It becomes increasingly hard to renew the energy supply. But it is my destiny to share warmth and joy with others. And I guess what I ask for is that I always have strength to sing one more song.” Let her always have this strength. Because when she doesn’t, the world will be a much smaller and mach poorer place to live and enjoy.