Story 1: The parents - love story
She knew him, a native of Turkey but a Greek by birth, when she was still a very young girl. He served in the French Legion of General De Gaulle and was already a man burdened with a large family. Some time later she married, too. It seemed that their roads would never cross again. But people are mistaken in their belief that they know everything well in advance. They were fated to meet much later at the St. Louis Hospital in France. There was a war in the Middle East at that time, and the wounded legionary met her again in the clinic where she was a doctor. By the time he had lost his wife and she was a widow, too. Memories that might have been glimmering deep in their hearts grew into a passionate love. Without giving a thought to the difference in age (he remembered her when she was just a child) they got married and moved to Syria where the happy couple on 21st July 1969 gave birth to a son and "called him Abraham".
One cannot resist a temptation here to digress to mysterious and wonderful homeland of Abraham as if in Eastern fairy tales.
When the velvety night rolls up its star-lit cover to give way to another day of plenty, a hot wind comes down from the Lebanon Mountains to its gardens and valleys in blossom. The Mediterranean Sea tenderly laps against golden beaches scattered in the ancient Latania, and a traveler strolling along its endless paths losses the sense of time in the languor. This land is full of bliss as sweet as honey in a beautiful bowl.
In some incredible way Syria is esoterically bonded to Russia, so similar is the character of its people to Russians. Mysterious and strange Slavs are alleged to be great-ancestors of Syrians. That is why there are so many people here with blue eyes, red hair and even freckles. And of course, the same recklessness, relying on the off-chance known locally as "nshaala" (God help). But hospitality, kindheartedness that are not so much appreciated in modern Russia… Oh, what an ethnic, language and religious mix within a confined small area halfway between Lebanon and Jordan, which takes not more than 5 hours to drive across. By the way, Orthodox Christians account for 40% of the population. Religious tolerance is unprecedented and pro-actively encouraged by the government. Illusions aside, there are drawbacks and fools here too, but one more virtue is worth mentioning: Syrians really admire and take care of women. Every second Syrian writes poetry, while every third can sing and play a musical instrument rather well. In such a country one can grow up only to become a poet. But we'll talk about that later. A new day has just broken and it is time we leave off talking.
Story 2: Tower of Babel
A brother of Abraham was born. In local terms the family was very small. But it was extremely hard for Abraham's mother to raise even the two children she had. (The father, that very legionary, died when Abraham was 7). Abraham remembers that period of time mainly from stories told by others. Since childhood the boy had a gift for languages. Abraham admits that he started speaking Turkish, Arabic and French as soon as he was born. By the way, every intelligent person in an Arab country normally speaks two or three languages. But for Abraham the command of foreign languages is more than a just a simple means to understand another person. As Eastern wisdom goes, to speak one language means to have the mind of one person, to speak two - to have the mind of two people, to speak many - means to acquire the wisdom of the entire world.
Abraham does not devote himself to learning languages: he picks them up. He just listens to people and that's all. Now he speaks 9 languages. In addition to the three that have already been mentioned he speaks Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Greek, Armenian and Spanish, to say nothing of English or Russian (He even thinks in Russian now). In other words, he is not afraid of the Tower of Babel.
Story 3: From monastery to monastery
Though it may seem strange to an ordinary Russian, but Abraham was assisted in his studies of languages at a monastery. At first he found himself in a German catholic monastery Gebel in Lebanon when he was only 7 years of age. At that time the Middle East was at war and a bomb destroyed one of the buildings. He had to go to France. He could not make ends meet living on a government pension and some other allowances as in Europe everything was very expensive. Abraham got his bachelor degree at university but he was not permitted to work, as he was still underage to be legally employed. The family came back to Syria. Soon Abraham returned to the monastery. Substantially spoiled by atheism, it's difficult for us to take love for God to be a norm of life. Abraham who is a firm believer is afraid of two things only: God's wrath and people who do not believe in God. Abraham's mother has always wanted one of her sons to take the vows, and even now she would not object if Abraham makes such a decision. But … it is time for Scheherazade to slip into eloquent silence. We shall also leave off talking and like Sindbad, set off to far away lands along tumultuous waves of life.
Story 4: Journeys
For long I trotted to far away lands
And met there different people
But everywhere I got a new glance
And each harvest time collected ears
It is hard to imagine another person who crossed borders as easily as Abraham - as if moving from one chapter to another in a fascinating book. In contrast to his basic education, he mastered singing on his own. He started with a small group Tiki Boys in Aleppo (a big city on the border with Turkey).
To my mind, it is not the strength that makes his voice so beautiful but the timbre, nuances and subtle variations - and that is what makes his female admirers go crazy. This voice opened the door into the Big World for him. First, at one of the competitions he was noticed by an Iranian female singer who advised him to take up singing seriously. Then there were chic clubs in England, Spain, France, Sweden, the Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and even Djibouti (Africa). Formally a French with an Italian, Jewish and God knows whatever other blood Abraham is the first Citizen of the World on our stage. Wherever he is, he easily manages not only to improve his language skills, but to feel the culture or ethnic character and adjusts to them in the most natural way.
For a long time Abraham lived on Cyprus, though he could get famed anywhere, the whole Europe was waiting for him. But as it often happens with charismatic people, from time to time they feel the necessity to start from scrap in a place where ordinary people would not venture to. In 1997 on Cyprus Abraham met Russian businessman Tel'man Ismailov, came to Moscow and signed a contract with the restaurant "Prague". Come on, remove your wry smile please. Shalyapin sang in restaurants, too. I would not turn down such an offer but - lack of talent, sorry. But even cunning Scheherazade would not dare come to Russia at the time of the 1998 default.
Story 5: Russia
Abraham Russo on Russia: "I came, I saw, I marveled".
- I could have stayed in any country and started a career anywhere. A talent cannot be locked in a box. But it was my destiny that as a believer I could not escape. I was interested because I knew nothing about Russia. Here everything is different. The whole world lives clockwise, and Russia - counterclockwise. I came, saw and marveled and stay.
- What was the most difficult in Russia? If one gives it a thought it is hard to imagine how foreigners can find their bearings in this country. Even in the Underground everything is written in Russian to say nothing of street signs.
- Yes, the most difficult was to explain a taxi driver, or in a restaurant, or to passers-by in the street what I wanted. It seems that people do not know even the ABC in English. I got my first lessons of comprehension in a Russian Bistro. Every day for two months I came there to buy buns trying to guess what was inside by their shape. Soon my face became familiar and they started smiling at me. Slowly I started absorbing words.
Abraham speaks Russian fluently with a slight Syrian accent that adds a certain charm to his speech. He understands Russian even better.
"The Russian language is beautiful, I even think in Russian and I love it!", says Abraham.
Daleko-dalyoko (Far, so far away) is the name of the first song in Russian that was a winner of hit parades for a long time.
- And what else did you discover for yourself in Russia?
- I have never thought that I can write lyrics but after the album Tonight a CD was released with ten songs of my own. Recently a clip has been made for a new song that we recorded together with Kristina Orbakaite Love that is no more.