News > UAE Armenians > I love Middle Eastern harmonies says Taleen Kalbian
Interviewed by David Light
Taleen Kalbian on her passion for music and being opening act for Christina Aguilera
AS YOU ARE all well aware Christina Aguilera will be performing at the Emirates Palace Hotel on Friday (24 October 2008). What you probably donít know is that supporting her will be American born singing sensation Taleen Kalbian. Hailing from Armenian heritage and having lived in the UAE for a short while when she was seventeen, twenty-one-year-old Taleen finds her music appeals to US and international audiences alike. Her debut single, ĎGotta let it go,í was released in Dubai in January 2004 and since then she has moved back to the States to further her career.
City Times caught up with Miss Kalbian to check out what she has been up to and how she feels about coming back to the UAE to perform with a global superstar.
You've lived in Dubai and released a record here, how does it feel to be returning to the UAE to support Christina Aguilera. Are you guys friends?
It really feels amazing. Words canít ever describe how excited I am to be back in the UAE. Coming back to Abu Dhabi for such an occasion and opening for an artist that I have had so much respect for and have looked up to throughout my career is beyond words. I love how welcoming and supportive the people in UAE are and have always been to me. My very first invitation was five years ago from the Abu Dhabi Music Foundation; Mrs. Huda Kanoo was instrumental in shaping my impressions of Abu Dhabi. Itís going to be great to be back with family and friends. Being friends and especially working with Christina and learning from her would be a dream come true. I look forward to that moment.
Is this the biggest show you will have done?
This is probably one of my biggest shows. I have sung in front of large crowds my whole life but this is definitely the most significant because Iím opening up for such a huge star.
Where did your passion for music come from?
My passion for music came from God. Even before I knew how to talk I was mesmerised by music, singers and performers. I am forever thankful that my family has supported my passion and opened up my eyes to so many different types of music growing up.
When did you embark on a singing career? Has this always been a dream?
I began professionally singing at the age of nine. Thatís when I started to take things seriously and really embarking on my career. I sang at the Washington Opera and from that moment on it was my undeniable dream to follow a music career.
What has been your proudest memory to date in your career?
My proudest memory was singing for Pope John Paul II. It was amazing because I was in Bethlehem in Manger Square and Jerusalem, so just being there in front of such an amazing man and being able to share my gift with him and the world was a special moment. This Christina concert will probably be right up there with a favourite experience as well!
Who are your inspirations?
My inspirations are my father who works so incredibly hard every day to achieve his goals for the family. My mother, with her unconditional love and support, Madonna, who has continuously reinvented herself and been so smart about her career and of course Aretha Franklin who sings with so much soul and passion that is very inspiring.
How would you describe your music? Does anyone in the charts now have a similar sound?
My music is fun, fresh, and soulful with a pop sound and very relatable. I write songs that come from personal experience that I know a lot of people my age go through. I would compare it to Beyonce meets Shakira with a touch of Christina.
Does your cultural heritage influence your music in any way? Would you consider releasing some songs in Arabic?
Absolutely! I have such a Middle Eastern influence in many of my songs. I love Middle Eastern harmonies and a lot of the instruments like the tabla, the tar, and the oud. I would love to sing some songs in Arabic even though my Arabic is not that great!
What do you listen to on a regular basis and who are the artists you enjoy?
If you looked at my music library you would think I was a crazy mad woman because I have so many types of music from Metallica to Andrea Bocelli! I just love all music. Anything that makes me feel, moving me emotionally and inspires me, I love. I always try to put different musical influences in my work from different cultures, especially when I write.
Having lived in the UAE what is your impression of the place?
The UAE is such an astounding place! The co-existence of the desert and the sea is so very beautiful and deep to me. That reverence and respect for the elements and the culture can be felt in the people and how they interact with each other. You have the old and the new, the old and the young. It all mixes in harmony creating a beautiful place and a welcoming environment. Itís so exciting! There is never a dull moment here!
What can the audience expect from your performance?
The audience can expect a very high-energy performance. Iíll be singing a number of my original songs that hopefully you have been hearing on the radio, but I am also singing some covers and a surprise song that Iím sure everyone will recognise and love but I canít tell you what it is yet! You will have to come to the show to hear it! Iím basically going to be pumping everyone up for the main event.
What does a typical day in the life of Taleen involve?
A typical day is running on the treadmill and singing at the same time for about 40 minutes in the morning, making my breakfast, going to the gym and working with my trainer. Then going to my vocal lessons with my amazing coach Stephanie Spruill, working on songs alone or with other writers and producers, recording some of these songs in the studio, then dance or acting and then finally I like to take a hot shower sit on the couch and watch TV with the love of my life, my dog Mish Mish.
What are your career plans for the immediate future?
My plan is to put out my record and go on a world tour. When I think of my career I think of it globally because my music has a very global and international message. I would love to just travel to all different places in the world and share my message, music and God given talent with people.
Where would you like to be in 10 years?
In 10 years I would love to have a successful music career and keep writing songs for myself and for other artists. Also, it would be another of my dreams to settle down and start a family. I love family and to be able to get married and have children would be such a blessing.
What do you think you will take from this performance?
This performance will be such a significant and memorable experience for me. Itís funny because I have always wanted to go to a Christina Aguilera concert and for some reason or another never was able to, but I never thought, I would be going to her concert opening for her in Abu Dhabi, like this! Iím so appreciative to my team, to Flash, the people of Abu Dhabi who have made this dream possible for me. I feel so blessed. Thank you.
Source: "Khaleej Times" (City Times Supplement), 21 October 2008