How did you start? (Music career)
I have been singing for as long as I can remember. Growing up, our home was always filled with music, my mother was always singing and I grew up loving music and expressing myself through singing. Singing has always been a part of my life. I took formal voice lessons when I was older and loved it. I would give recitals and sing in church or at community events. Audience members would always come up to me after I had performed and tell me that I should pursue music. But I wasn’t sure if that was the path that God wanted me to take. Some years later, I was thrilled to receive an Arts award from Canada Council who had selected my music from many other submissions and awarded me with a grant to record my music. Once I had recorded my first album, I was invited to perform at festivals in Canada and I began to perform professionally.
Tell me about your family, please.
I am married to a wonderful man. He is an amazing husband and I love living life with him. We have three precious children – two daughters, ages 6 and 4, and a son, who is 15 months old.
Have you ever visited Armenia?
Yes, I have been to Armenia twice. I worked in Yerevan as a volunteer on both occasions, working with children and adults. I love the country and I can’t wait to return! I love the people, the breath taking scenery and the food!
I know that your grandma’s name was also Mariam .What role did she have?
I never met my grandmother; she died long before I was ever born. But I am named after her. So I feel a very close connection to her. Mariam Markarian was my mother’s mom. My mom and aunts have told me about my grandmother: she was a woman who loved Jesus, who loved her family and loved to serve others. She loved to sing and was always singing in the home. She was a hard working woman who had a joyful spirit and a genuine faith in God. She is one of my inspirations.
It is known that your grandma has survived from Armenian Genocide. Next year will be 100 years of Genocide. How is your preparing for that?
We live in a small city in the United States where the Armenian community is very limited in number. We maybe have only a handful of Armenian speaking people here. I would like to help organize an event to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Genocide, but I will have to reach out to non-Armenians, because the Armenians here are so few in number. I would love to see a community wide event, where people of many different cultures come out to remember and honour the victims of the Genocide and pray for hope for the future.
What is Armenian music for you?
Armenian music for me is soulful, hauntingly beautiful, the expression of my soul… I love the sound of Armenian words. I love the old songs, I love our liturgy… there is such beauty in our music… in the way the language, which is so melodic itself, sounds even more so when set to music…
Armenian music delights my heart because now, where I live, I don’t hear the language spoken much at all. My husband and I both speak Armenian and we are teaching our children who are fluent in Armenian and English. But sometimes I long to hear Armenian outside of our home… and during those moments, I put on some Armenian music, and watch my children dance and my heart is lifted up.Armenian music also represents a deep connection with my heritage, with my grandparents, our ancestors… it connects me to their stories…
Why do you prefer Armenian folk music?
I love the ancient songs of our culture. There is something absolutely beautiful about them. I love the melodies. I love the pure message. I love the words. I love the picture that is painted with the words and the music together. When I sing the folk songs, I feel even closer to my grandmother because I know that she used to sing these exact same songs.
What do you feel when you sing?
I feel a deep sense of joy. I love using my voice, expressing my heart and soul through song. Sometimes, if a song is a sad one, my heart feels that pain. Singing is a very vulnerable act for me…I cannot hide when I am on stage. All the emotions come through when I sing. I want to be honest for the audience and let them feel the emotions.
I pray so much before I sing, and when I sing it is an act of worship to the Lord. My faith in Jesus is intertwined in every aspect of my singing. He has given me my voice, my love for music. He gives me the opportunities to sing. For me, singing is an expression of how great God is.
Do you have favorite singers, musicians from Armenia?
Right now my favorite singers are ones who are singing children’s music because my children are so young and they love listening to music. But I adore musicians from a while ago, John Berberian and Lusine Zakarian.
Are you informed about life in Armenia?
I try to stay informed through friends of mine who live in Armenia or who visit more often than I am able to. I stay connected through social media and try to keep up to date.
Will you have concerts in Armenia? When?
I hope to have concerts in Armenia one day! That is a dream of mine. We just have to figure out the way to make it a reality. That would be incredible.
Who are your inspirations?
My grandmother, my mom and dad, my husband and children.
What is important for you in life?
My relationship with Jesus is the essence of my life. His grace is what gives me strength to live each day. Knowing that I am loved by the Creator, that He knows me by name, that He wants to know me even more intimately… this moves my heart. This is the reason I live. Everything we do as a family is done in light of Jesus Christ. After the Lord, my husband is important to me. He is my beloved, my best friend, my life partner. I love living life with him. Our children are also so important. Just watching them grow and develop before my very eyes is a privilege and joy! I love being their mama.
What can we expect from you in the future?
We will record again, we have the songs, and we are just waiting for the right time. And then we will perform more regularly again. Currently, my focus has been on being with our precious children who are so young. So we have not performed as much as in the past, but as the children are getting older, we will begin to perform more regularly audiences again.
Msheci ( Ani Karapetyan)