Superstar Valeriya has dominated the Russian song charts for more than 20 years, and now her goal is to spread her music throughout the rest of the world.
Valeriya, 46, has released 15 albums and achieved more than 20 #1 hits so far in her career. She has sold out numerous concert halls, and has grossed upwards of $100 million in record sales. Her career success can be attributed to her passion for music and performance.
“I cannot live without music. I cannot sleep without music. It is within me,” she said.
Valeriya was born Alla Yurievna Perfilova in Atkarsk, a small provincial town in Russia. She was surrounded by music growing up, and knew from an early age that she wanted to be a singer.
“I have always loved to sing. I came from a family of musicians, my father was a conductor of the town’s brass orchestra and also the principal at a local music school and my mother, up to these days, works as a piano teacher,” Valeriya said.
“My mother told me at 9 months old I sang my first melody, so I guess this is when I discovered my voice,” she added.
Valeriya moved to Moscow when she was 17 years old to receive formal vocal training. She attended Gnessin Academy of Music, which she describes as “Russia’s most prestigious music university.”
Valeriya has released dozens of songs throughout the past two decades. Each track reflects her personal experiences and the environment that surrounds her. “I am inspired by nature, happiness, also the difficulties in life; the relationships I have with people who I treasure in this world. Travel also inspires me to write, too,” she said.
Her music has evolved to reflect her growth as an artist. “Experimentation is key!” she exclaimed. “I like to work with many composers and producers to create new and interesting sounds. I began singing more classical, romanticism ballads then moved to pop/rock then onto pop/disco. I feel I have covered many genres.”
While musical experimentation is important to Valeriya, she also believes that staying true to herself is a key aspect of her success. The music industry changes rapidly and new artists are always emerging. She has preserved the longevity of her career by maintaining her core values.
“I think you have to follow your roots and stick to your heart. I try never to cross boundaries as some of my fans are young and I want to be a good role model. I also try to keep evolving my music,” she explained.
Valeriya’s focus has been on expanding her music’s reach to parts of the world outside of Russia. She has sold out two performances at The O2 arena in London and performed her show “Valeriya and Friends” at Royal Albert Hall last month. During this show, Valeriya performed her top hits alongside the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, as well as other Russian superstars.
She found success in the U.K. by partnering with British musicians. One of her first British collaborations was singing the Bee Gees hit “Staying Alive” alongside Robin Gibb. “I made sure I collaborated with British composers and producers who also worked alongside some of my Russian composers too,” Valeriya said.
“It is a very time consuming process establishing yourself in other countries. I have had success in the American club charts but I find it hard with all the travelling and being away from my family,” she said.
Valeriya is the mother of three children, Anna, Artemy, and Arseny. She explained that the key to balancing her work life with her family life is to plan time out in advance. “We take small breaks as a family in the children’s holidays and enjoy family time,” she said.
Valeriya has shared her knowledge of the music industry as a judge on the Ukrainian version of the singing competition “The Voice” and for the online talent search Avon Voices. “I met all these young artists who were so bright and creative, they really inspired me,” she recalled. “It was such an emotional journey having to choose the artists to send home.”
Despite her success in music, Valeriya emphasized that the industry is difficult and is not for the faint-of-heart. “You should only enter this industry if you cannot live without it! It is a hard struggle and you must have the constant passion,” she added.
Valeriya is currently working on a new album that will be targeted toward international audiences. She explained that the album would include “something new and fresh for the future.”
Christina Raus is a creative writing student who plugs her ears with her fingers whenever anybody tries to tell her that a degree in writing is good for nothing more than to guarantee her a lifelong, fulltime job as a barista. She works as a tutor at the Western New England University Writing Center, where she empowers students of all academic disciplines to express themselves through written language. After graduating with her Bachelor of Arts degree, Christina intends to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction writing.