Siren of the Silk Road – Central Asia’s
Sevara Nazarkhan is Uzbekistan’s
emerging pop diva. A singer, songwriter
and musician, she is poised to become a
major star not only in the whole Central
Asian region, where ancient cultural forms
have yet to lost their popularity, but beyond.
Sevara made her professional debut in
1998 with a popular female group, and a
year later released her debut album,
establishing herself as a solo singer.
Despite her choice of western musical
forms, her roots are apparent. Sevara’s
father, formerly a vocalist of European
classical music, headed the traditional
music department in Tashkent radio while
her mother teaches traditional string
At the notoriously traditional and rigorous
Tashkent State Conservatory, Nazarkhan
studied the doutar, an ancient Central Asian
instrument that resembles a lute, and
mastered the region’s maqams, scales and
musical patterns that predate Uzbekistan
itself by centuries.
She rekindled the old Silk Road traditions of
woman troubadours whose songs of love
and adventure kept traders’ minds off their
arduous travels as they hauled spices, silk
and other treasures by cart and camel
across the desert.
Since Sevara’s introduction to Real World
Records in 2000, she has been developing
her solo career outside of Uzbekistan. That
year she performed at the WOMAD Festival
in Reading, UK, and at WOMAD Singapore,
and rumours of her extraordinary live
presentation quickly spread.
Her album, ‘Yol Bolsin’ (Real World
Records), released earlier this year, is a
collection of folk, sufi and peasant songs
which successfully become as
contemporary and appealing as the pop
songs Sevara is famous for in her
homeland. French producer Hector Zazou
bathes her mesmerising voice in subtle
beats and electronic shimmers. Whilst her
style is steeped in the ancient forms of
Central Asian music, she has also absorbed
the styles of Western female icons such as
Sade and Lauren Hill.
On Yol Bolsin, (Sevara) plays brilliantly with
traditional and modern ideas of female
identity, contrasting fire and ethereality, and
creating moments of intense fragile beauty.
Mark Hudson, Daily Telegraph
Sevara has been performing around
Europe, USA and Canada as support to
Peter Gabriel’s ‘Growing Up’ tour,
establishing her credentials as an
international touring artist.