Giddy Anticipation for Armenian Music Blockbuster on Dec. 13

LOS ANGELES—The last time Horizon TV’s “M Club” hosted an awards show in December 2006, tickets sold out weeks in advance. Weeks prior to the award show, which featured a who’s who of Armenian and international music stars, tickets to the event were being auctioned at five times their face value on eBay, the internet auction site.

From hard-to-score tickets to a star-studded program with performers featured in the hottest Armenian music videos of the year, the third annual M Club awards show is again the center of media hype in hyper drive.

“This is the Armenian version of the Oscars, Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, and the People’s Choice Awards, all together in the same venue on the same night,” said M Club producer Sevak Petrosyan. “Dozens of stars are flying in from Yerevan, Europe, Moscow, and South America to be part of the music awards show.”

Like its multinational refugee and immigrant fans, Armenian pop has found a home where American commercialism and consumerism intersect with Armenian ingenuity and tech-savvy “hye” merchants of pop. On Dec. 13, that home will be at the 7,100-seat Nokia Theater at LA Live, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

At the Meridian Studios in Burbank, videographers, technicians, animators, and producers are burning the midnight oil to be as ready for a flawless award show on Sun., Dec. 13.

“People are used to seeing the biggest and best shows mainstream Hollywood can offer,” said technical director Karen Poghosyan. “When they come to the Nokia, they expect a smooth, fast-paced, interactive, entertaining, dazzling show, and we are ready to give them a bang for their buck.”

Editor and graphic artist Nora Demirjian is also working overtime to be part of the 16-camera set-up that will film the concert and awards show from every possible angle for broadcast.

“We’re all very excited to not just see the show but be part of the show,” said Nora Demirjian. “I cannot believe all the stars we seen on music videos and hear on the radio from all over the world and Armenia are going to be together on one stage. I can’t wait to see who wins.”

The million dollar question at the million dollar show this year is who will walk away with such accolades as Best Male Singer of the Year, Best Female Singer of the Year, and Director of the Year.

Among those to be honored for various accomplishments in their short or long careers will be French Armenian superstar Charles Aznavour.  System of a Down’s lead singer, Serj Tankian, is rumored to be gearing up for a live performance with his father Khatchadour. The father and son musicians are about to release Serj’s father’s debut album titled “Inchbess Moranank” (How can we forget?).

The 2006 M Club Music Video Awards were full of emotional and heart-rending moments, as when Armenchik performed with the grandson of Aram Asatryan. Armenchik’s tribute to the legendary performer had come only weeks after Asatryan’s death of a heart attack in November 2006.

A second emotional tribute was a performance by Andre in memory of Varduhi Vardanyan, who had been killed in a car crash in October 2006. She was honored posthumously as Best Female Singer of the Year.

Other pop stars performing at the show are Nune Yesayan, Shushan Petrosyan, Reincarnation, the Armenoids, and pop, rabiz, rap, and old time favorites like Ruben Matevosyan, and diasporan favorites like Harout Pamboukjian and Karnig Sarkissian.

As noticeable from the range of music genres and tastes, Armenian music in the 21st century seems as border-less and boundless as Armenians in the four corners of the world. Over the past year, Horizon TV’s M Club has featured top hits ranging from Melineh Kurdian’s American folk sound of guitar and voice to Apeh Jan’s Armenian rap videos. Viewers have voted for Mihran’s English rap videos as their favorite, along with Inga and Anoush’s Eurovision hit “Nor Bar” (New Dance).

“In one week, we have people requesting pop music from the late Aram Asatryan and jazz from Tatevik Hovhannisyan,” said M Club show hostess Tatevik Ekezian. “One minute we have Zulal with a traditional folk song, and the next minute we are playing Armenian rap, followed by Harout and Karnig.”

“It’s not often that Armenians from all over the world come together with their favorite singers all in one place,” said nominee and jazz singer Arthur Ispirian. “We are coming together as one people in one theater on one night, and there with us will be the greatest Armenian musicians of all time like Charles Aznavour and Serj Tankian.”

The producers have between them nearly four decades of entertainment experience. Sevak Petrosyan of the Meridian Studios produces Horizon TV’s M Club. The show is a weekly countdown of the most requested music videos. Top pop artists often appear with hostess Tatevik to talk about their new albums and thank viewers for their votes. The second producer of the Nokia blockbuster is Arthur Kokozian, who is heading the 10th annual Armenian Music Awards. Prior to the two awards shows coming together, the Armenian Music Awards had produced nine award shows.

“This is the one big opportunity our Armenian artists have to show off their art and their stage presence to non-Armenian industry insiders who come out to scope out new and ethnic talent,” said Arthur Kokozian. “Over the past decade, we’ve had a number of success stories of Armenian music finding its way to motion picture soundtracks and television shows thanks to the exposure award shows like this give our artists from Armenia and the diaspora.”

For experienced performers and newcomers alike, performing in the global Armenian spotlight is a dream come true.

“I could have never imagined that I would be on a stage like this,” said rapper and hip-hop artist Mikael Abrahamyan at the 2nd annual M Club Music Video Awards show in 2006. His group “Hay Tghek” and their hit song “Amara” had been popular with audiences in the homeland and diaspora. Abrahamyan said he wasn’t surprised by the success of Armenian rap, because he believes Armenians don’t have borders, boundaries, or limitations.

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