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Million views on YouTube, life in Moscow, and money from Pugacheva. Where is Ukraine's Got Talent star Oleksandr Kvarta now?

Oleksandr Kvarta

Ukrainians remember this singer well after his enchanting participation in the TV show "Ukraine's Got Talent" with the song "Senorita, I'm in Love". For his incredible sunshine and positive attitude, Oleksandr Kvarta was dubbed a holiday man.

In an interview with OBOZ.UA, the artist told us why he refused to sing his song "Senorita" for several years, how one of his songs ended up in Pugacheva's repertoire, and why he was accused of appropriating a work performed by the Soviet band Veselye Rebyata. Oleksandr says that the Russians actually "licked" the melody from a foreign composition written by Toto Cutunio.

Oleksandr Kvarta's first higher education was as a teacher of drawing and painting. He worked at the school for four years. However, he admits that he has always been attracted to his singing career. His public career began on Khreshchatyk in Kyiv, in the Karaoke on the Maidan program. Sashko did not make it to the final of the show, but he was recognized on the streets. Later, he participated in another famous TV show "Ukraine's Got Talent", where he reached the semifinals, winning the favor of the jury and the audience with his hit "Senorita, I'm in Love". In the same year, he took part in the national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. Mika Newton went to Germany to represent Ukraine in 2011, but Oleksandr gained his share of popularity.

Million views on YouTube, life in Moscow, and money from Pugacheva. Where is Ukraine's Got Talent star Oleksandr Kvarta now?

Kvarta is from Okhtyrka, Sumy region. There he studied violin at a music school, was involved in a ballet studio and a drama club. He graduated from the Lebedyn Pedagogical School and later became a graduate of Kharkiv National Pedagogical University. He began writing and performing songs as a student.

He composed his first songs in Russian because he was inspired by Russian rock bands and pop music. However, as he admits now, this situation has always surprised him: "I have been speaking Ukrainian since childhood. My dad specially sent me to a school that taught in Ukrainian, though I had to walk two kilometers longer to get there than to a Russian-language school. I studied at a pedagogical school in Lebedyn, where we were taught Ukrainian so that neither Russianisms nor dialectisms slipped through. But when I came to Kharkiv, I was surprised that even many teachers at the pedagogical institute spoke Russian."

Oleksandr lived in Russia for some time. He admits that he believed, like many other performers at the time, that if you make a name for yourself in Moscow, you will be popular here: "I had hopes that I would get into some radio charts with my songs. But I also had another thing in mind: I dreamed of making movies. So I entered the Moscow State University of Culture and Arts to study film and television directing. However, he studied there for three months. I realized that I hadn't discovered anything interesting. While we were analyzing the movie Battleship Potemkin to see how the "parts" were made, I had already mastered many modern editing programs on my own. Later I worked in a production center. Then my Olia came along."

Million views on YouTube, life in Moscow, and money from Pugacheva. Where is Ukraine's Got Talent star Oleksandr Kvarta now?

Oleksandr met his future wife at a music festival back in Kharkiv: "She is a dancer. When she went on stage, I noted for myself that she was the most graceful, the best of all." He fell head over heels in love, but Olya had a boyfriend and a dance partner, so he did not express his feelings. And when he was living in Moscow, the girl once wrote that she had ended the relationship. And then he confessed his love to her. And she bought a ticket and came.

"For a while, we worked together as editing directors," Oleksandr continues, "and when we realized that we wanted to become parents, we decided that we had to go back. Olia said to me: "I want our child to be able to see his grandparents and all the other relatives." Now I think it was the best decision in my life. I have thanked my wife for it many times. I can't say that I argued much, but still, the idea to return was hers. By the way, with Olia's light hand, one of my songs ended up in Alla Pugacheva's repertoire."

Million views on YouTube, life in Moscow, and money from Pugacheva. Where is Ukraine's Got Talent star Oleksandr Kvarta now?

"I wrote the song 'On the Way to the Sun' back in 1997," the singer recalls, "and when I lived in Moscow, I sent several of my compositions to a contest held by the Primadonna on her Radio Alla. In early January 2010, my brother Roman called me: "Turn on the TV, Pugacheva is singing your song!" She was performing "On the Way to the Sun" at the Christmas Meetings. Then the song appeared on the radio in her performance. On the one hand, I was happy, but on the other hand, what about me? I sang this song too. And now it turns out that it's not Pugacheva who sings mine, but I sing hers? I called Moscow, and her agent signed a copyright agreement with me. I was paid a fee of several thousand dollars. It became a solid contribution to our first car."

"Over time, there were fewer and fewer songs in Russian in my repertoire. About five years ago, there were only three songs for the whole concert," Kvarta continues, "But new ones have appeared since 2014 when I started going to the ATO to give concerts to the guys. In terms of language, everything has changed dramatically in our society now. Many friends and acquaintances have switched to Ukrainian, and fans who until recently wrote to me in Russian are now addressing me in their native language. My principled position is that I will not post any comments on social media in Russian. Recently, I even had a dispute with a Russian commenter who tried to prove that Okhtyrka is a Russian city. It's a Cossack town, and it's still conditionally divided into hundreds."

The singer also admits that he received a considerable amount of hate after he translated his song "Senorita" into Ukrainian: "For a while, I gave up on it altogether. I thought I would never come back. I didn't see any point in translating it, but the audience didn't think so. They reminded me of it, and once the organizers of a concert jokingly gave me an ultimatum: "Don't come without 'Senorita'". I remember that on the way to the performance, I started translating on the train."

Million views on YouTube, life in Moscow, and money from Pugacheva. Where is Ukraine's Got Talent star Oleksandr Kvarta now?

When I posted it online, along with favorable reviews, I also received dissatisfied comments: "You wrote: "What right do you have?" I answered that I did, because I had officially drawn up all the necessary documents for this song. I bought the rights for a lot of money for me at the time. But this song opened so many doors in my life that I realized I needed it. Everyone thinks that this is a work by the Soviet band Veselye Rebyata. And few people know that they once stole it from a foreign repertoire and passed it off as their own. It is the music of Toto Coutuño. The Russian text was written by the poet Lyubov Voropaeva, who, by the way, did not support the war against Ukraine. From the very first days, as soon as it started in Kharkiv, she wrote to me: "Sasha, how are you doing?" I replied: "It's better not to ask, because we might ruin our relationship. And I don't want to lose human relations with you."

Million views on YouTube, life in Moscow, and money from Pugacheva. Where is Ukraine's Got Talent star Oleksandr Kvarta now?

At concerts, "Senorita" is well received in Ukrainian, as are other songs that Oleksandr is currently writing and performing on his own or with different authors: "People know me for my cheerful repertoire, but nowadays it's difficult to sing only such songs. In my repertoire, some compositions seem to be out of character for me, but that's what time demands. I am restoring old Cossack songs as a defensive reaction to the fact that people say that we have no history, language, or land. Preserving our roots is our task now because, without it, it will be difficult for the country to resist the invasion."

The full-scale invasion caught the singer in Kharkiv: "I was preparing for my solo concert. On February 23, I remember sitting with a colleague, analyzing the notes for the performance. And he said: 'My friends are withdrawing money from ATMs, they say we have to leave. And I did not believe until the last moment that an attack was possible... The first days we were hiding from rocket attacks in the subway. I was constantly looking for news on the Internet: "How is Okhtyrka? My dad?" Later I found out that the windows and doors in the house were blown out, the roof was damaged, and the slate was blown off. Dad immediately started to make repairs. When we suggested that maybe there was no need to hurry, who knows what other trials are ahead, he said that he could not live like the Russians. Everything had to be in order."

Million views on YouTube, life in Moscow, and money from Pugacheva. Where is Ukraine's Got Talent star Oleksandr Kvarta now?

Oleksandr, his wife, and two sons have an apartment in Kharkiv, which is regularly shelled by the occupiers. Now the family lives in Ivano-Frankivsk. Meanwhile, the artist's relatives remain in Kharkiv, including the wife and child of his brother Roman, who joined the National Guard.

Million views on YouTube, life in Moscow, and money from Pugacheva. Where is Ukraine's Got Talent star Oleksandr Kvarta now?

Oleksandr Kvarta performs at military units and hospitals and raises money for the military at charity concerts: "There was a time when I confess, I was a little confused about the repertoire. If in 2014 I went to Donetsk and Luhansk to visit the guys, I knew that they were waiting for me to give them something fun, now it is often perceived as 'some people jump, others cry'. There was a time when I thought about how to deal with this."

"And when I saw that people were reaching out, that they missed it, that they wanted positive things, I decided not to stop," Oleksandr continues, "If we all sit down and mope, it will not help the guys. Still, the audience doesn't see me as a tragedian or a lyricist, they are more interested in the theme of the funny man from Senorita.

Million views on YouTube, life in Moscow, and money from Pugacheva. Where is Ukraine's Got Talent star Oleksandr Kvarta now?

"Once Olena Matiushenko, one of the participants of Ukraine's Got Talent project, with whom I became very friendly, told me: "Sasha, Senorita is your golden cage," Kvarta admits. And, you know, I still get comments: "He doesn't sing anything new except for 'Senorita'!" And I have already released four albums in Ukrainian. The song "Smereka" has over 21 million views on YouTube, and "Ukrainian Potpourri" has over 10 million. I think I have already crossed the bar of this cage. But on the other hand, such comments give me an incentive to write new songs to prove that "Senorita" is not the only song in my life that deserves attention and respect."

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