Diva-Lovers of the World, Unite! – Part 1 – Zemfira (Russia)

This morning I played some Youtube videos of my favourite divas songs from over the years.

I explained to her that “DIVA” means a celebrated female singer.  “DIVA” originally meant a female goddess in Italian, and came from the Italian star-making system where a great actress would be called a “DEVO” and an accomplished actress called a “DIVA”.  And something I never knew about before: a word related to diva is “PRIMA DONNA”, meaning “First Lady” in Italian, the leading female singer in an opera.

Here is one of my best-loved divas, Zemfira from Russia:


Here she is playing it live:

I was learning Russian with friends during my years in Beijing, China.  I came across the most gorgeous song from Zemfira.  Here is more about her.  And also here:

Zemfira, the hurricane of Russian rock.

Zemfira A girls-scandal. A famous Russian rock artist, performer, lyrics and music writer. Zemfira Talgatovna Ramazanova is an ethnic Tatar born in Ufa in 1976, Russia. She started her career in 1999 and from that moment she released 3 full albums and some singles She is a kind of best-selling act with every her album.

Zemfira is immensely popular in Russia. The hype around her is enormous. The media now follows her every move. She is the first female rock songwriter in Russia and which is more important she self-designed her musical career. Her popularity is explained by the fact that Zemfira’s music and texts appeal to folk and so-called ‘intelligence’ at the same time; melodies are catchy and not too-pop at the same time. She has a scandalous image and charisma as well as some real talent: girl writes music, lyrics, sings and plays guitar and piano.

Zemfira’s lyrics engage deeply with tabooed but ubiquitous social issues such as alienation, depression, (homo)sexuality and AIDS.  The popular magazine Ogonek calls hers “the breaking voice of a generation, and the Russian press likes to call her “Kurt Cobain in a dress.

Zemfira is notable for her departure from the traditional role of women in Russian music. She challenges aesthetically-obsessed studio rock of the 1990’s with low-fi guitar melodies and a cracking voice. Zemfira’s music marks a not only a return to the early history of Russia rock when music was based in dissent, but a new trajectory all her own.

– from http://great.russian-women.net/Zemfira.shtml, accessed today

Lyrics and English translation:

Cuckoo – Kino (band) – Viktor Tsoi (writer) – English translation

sung by Zemfira for Viktor Tsoi Memorial Concert, 2001

How many songs are there yet to come?
Tell me, cuckoo, and sing
Where am I to live, where am I to die?
Lying on the ground, or flying like a star in the sky?

Sunshine above, come look at me
My hand has now turned into a fist
If there’s a way out, then show it to me
Like this

Who will tread upon these lonely steps again?
Who is strong and brave? Who will pay the price in battle
With their lives?
Very few remain in our memory,
With a sound mind, and a strong hand in the ranks

Where have you gone now, my freedom, where are you?
Who’s the lucky one meeting you again this morning,
Tell me
It’s good with you around, but it’s bad without
But my head and shoulders can hold out underneath the whip
You see

I can’t resist giving you one more pic:

And here are the Russian lyrics and guitar chords for all you Russian friends:

Виктор Цой / Кино – Кукушка


Песен еще ненаписанных, сколько?

G    Dm    Am

Скажи, кукушка, пропой.


В городе мне жить или на выселках,

G   Dm

Камнем лежать или гореть звездой?



G      F               Am

Солнце мое – взгляни на меня,

G      F                   Am

Моя ладонь превратилась в кулак,

G          F             Am

И если есть порох – дай огня.

GF   Am

Вот так… /Am C F/

Кто пойдет по следу одинокому?

Сильные да смелые

Головы сложили в поле в бою.

Мало кто остался в светлой памяти,

В трезвом уме да с твердой рукой в строю,

в строю.

Солнце мое – взгляни на меня,

Моя ладонь превратилась в кулак,

И если есть порох – дай огня.

Вот так…

Где же ты теперь, воля вольная?

С кем же ты сейчас

Ласковый рассвет встречаешь? Ответь.

Хорошо с тобой, да плохо без тебя,

Голову да плечи терпеливые под плеть,

под плеть.

Солнце мое – взгляни на меня,

Моя ладонь превратилась в кулак,

И если есть порох – дай огня.

Вот так…

Transliterated into Latin characters:

Pesen esche nenapisannyh, skol’ko?
Skazhi, kukushka, propoj.
V gorode mne zhit’ ili na vyselkah,
Kamnem lezhat’ ili goret’ zvezdoj?

Solntse moe – vzglyani na menya,
Moya ladon’ prevratilas’ v kulak,
I esli est’ poroh – daj ognya.
Vot tak…

Kto pojdet po sledu odinokomu?
Sil’nye da smelye
Golovy slozhili v pole v boyu.
Malo kto ostalsya v svetloj pamyati,
V trezvom ume da s tverdoj rukoj v stroyu,
V stroyu.

Solntse moe – vzglyani na menya,
Moya ladon’ prevratilas’ v kulak,
I esli est’ poroh – daj ognya.
Vot tak…

Gde zhe ty teper’, volya vol’naya?
S kem zhe ty sejchas
Laskovyj rassvet vstrechaesh’? Otvet’.
Horosho s toboj, da ploho bez tebya,
Golovu da plechi terpelivye pod plet’,
Pod plet’.

Solntse moe – vzglyani na menya,
Moya ladon’ prevratilas’ v kulak,
I esli est’ poroh – daj ognya.
Vot tak…




About sleepless in turtle island

Hi, I´m Dimitri. I have lived in Turtle Island for awhile now, so my cultural understanding is slowly improving. Also, I can see things in this place that boggle my mind. Thus this blog...
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1 Response to Diva-Lovers of the World, Unite! – Part 1 – Zemfira (Russia)

  1. Guilherme says:

    Zemfira is really a special woman!

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