Tuesday, July 17, 2012

156: The Self-Empowered Woman: Buranobskiye Babushki

Dear Followers,

It's pretty common knowledge that I really love stories about women who set a goal for themselves and then reach it. Today's blog is about an ethno-pop singing group composed of a group of older women who have been dubbed "elderly grannies" by the media. The women perform in embroidered pinafores that have been handed down from generations of earlier Udmurt women, and some of their head scarves are over 300 years old. Known as the Buranobskiye Babushki, they're from a small village in Russia that lies halfway between the Volga and the Urals, and recently they came in second place at the 2012 International Eurovision Song Contest.

While most of their songs are performed in the Udmurt language, they've also performed cover versions of popular English-language hits like "Let It Be," "Hotel California," "We Are The Champions," "Yesterday" and "I Am Beautiful." Perhaps their most popular song (at least according to YouTube) is "Part for Everybody."

Two years ago, the women began singing with the hopes of rebuilding the Trinity Church in their small town. The church had three altars (one devoted to the Trinity, the other to Archangel Michael, and the third to the Prophet Elijah). It had been built in 1865, but was closed by Communist Party commissars in 1937 and destroyed by oil-drilling crews twelve years later.

Their village (which is 820 miles east of Moscow) has a population of only 568, and in the past the "Grannies" have coped with war, famine, Stalin's Communism and endured winter temperature that can get below -35 degrees Celsius (which means -31 degrees Fahrenheit). To observers, it almost seems as if little has changed since Tsarist times.

Only in the last few years has the village acquired indoor plumbing and television. And thanks to the singing group's popularity, the women have raised closed to $250,000, which has allowed excavation work and scaffolding to begin where the future church will stand.

The women pictured above are 54, 63, 72, 73 and 76 years old, and village life for them usually consists of tending to their chickens, goats, vegetable gardens and gathering honey and mushrooms from the nearby forest. Now, thanks to their Eurovision popularity, one member even owns a washing machine. Great grandmother Galina Koneva, however, who is 73, still lives in a home with a 19th century log-burning stove.

The women don't earn money directly from Eurovision, but they do get money from singing at concerts, but schools from miles around have sent classes on field trips to visit their quaint homes. According to Alevtina Begisheva, 60, "I had a vision that something would change in our village. But I never imagined that we would return our church this way." To watch the Grannies in action, follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKNRGc71hjc"

Looking forward to your comments...

1 comment:

  1. Found the link to youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKNRGc71hjc
    Very inspiring women indeed! What a treat seeing them perform with their beautiful smiling faces!