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Yulduz Usmanova

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While the Turkish, Persian, and Central Asian elements of Uzbekian folklore are preserved, Usmanova's music reflects the influences of Western rock, jazz, and dance music as well. According to German music magazine, Stereoplay, Usmanova's "rhythms and melodies are based on Turkish-Ottoman bar and harmony structures but avoid that harmony nerve-killing for European ears." A graduate of the Department for Oriental Music at the Conservatorium in Taschkent, Uzmanova attracted worldwide attention when she placed first in a competition at the first Voice of Asia festival in 1991. Her debut album, Alma Alma, released two years later, was followed by her inaugural European tour. Although her first two albums, Alma Alma and Jannona, released in 1995, were marked by numerous phrases from the Koran or Bible and the classical poets, Usmanova began to focus on the writings of modern poets, including Muhammed Yussuf, with her third effort, Binafscha, in 1996. A former silk worker, Usmanova launched her music career as a traditional wedding singer. She has been credited with instituting formal concerts in Uzbekistan. While her songs were once subject to official state scrutiny, Usmanova has benefited in the changing culture of her homeland. ~ Craig Harris

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