Luminaries Reflect on Charles Aznavour’s Achievements, Comment on His Activism

Aznavour to Be Honored in New York City

Esteemed and respected musicians, artists, and community leaders from across the globe will gather to pay tribute to one of the world’s greatest musicians and entertainers, Charles Aznavour, in a star-studded event to take place at the exquisite Cipriani Wall Street on Friday evening, May 20.

Charles Aznavour

The evening will serve as an opportunity to highlight not only Aznavour’s talents but his decades-long service to Armenia on the eve of the republic’s 20th anniversary of regaining its independence.

Presenting the award to Aznavour will be the famous actress and singer Liza Minnelli, whose friendship with him dates back almost 50 years. Seeing Aznavour perform on stage for the first time was “magnetic” for Minnelli. “The minute he walked onstage, I stopped breathing,” she said.

One of Aznavour’s greatest strengths, she continued, is his ability to tell stories through his music. Following his performance, Minnelli realized she wanted to be a storyteller like Aznavour, and when she asked him to be her mentor, he agreed.

“I never did a show without showing it to him first. Ever,” she said.

Minnelli noted how important Aznavour’s Armenian heritage was for him. “People would say he is a Frenchman, but he would say, ‘No, I am Armenian,’” she said. “There was such pride in that.”

Minnelli spoke of Aznavour’s dedication and commitment to Armenia, especially his efforts during the 1988 earthquake, which took the lives of 50,000 Armenians. “He put all his passion, time, and stubbornness into helping Armenia, and it was spectacular,” she said.

Another world-famous singer who was affected by Aznavour’s music is Celine Dion, who was introduced to his work by her mother when she was a young girl. “It was an honor and a grand privilege for me to sing with him,” said Dion, recalling how she performed with him years later. “Not only is he one of the biggest stars in the history of France, but he’s also a very kind and gentle person.”

Featured alongside Aznavour in Atom Egoyan’s 2002 film “Ararat,” actor and playwright Eric Bogosian commends him for the attention he has brought to Armenia and to the Armenian Genocide.

“He is one of the most brilliantly focused individuals,” said Bogosian, who will serve as master of ceremonies for the gala. “And he has been a gift to people around the world.”

As a young student in Beirut, Lebanon, Vartan Gregorian, the president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, fondly recalls listening to Aznavour, describing him as an “artist with a social conscience.”

Gregorian noted Aznavour’s success in rising to international stardom without forgetting his roots. “He is the embodiment of the best we can have for the world,” said Gregorian. “He symbolized, for me, that the unique—the Armenian—can be universal without dissolving itself.”

As a representative of the Armenian government, UN Ambassador Garen Nazarian cited Aznavour as a “tireless advocate” for Armenia and worldwide recognition of the Armenian Genocide. He described Aznavour’s service to Armenia as “truly commendable.”

“For me personally, his image of an exceptional artist and great Armenian is inspirational and empowering,” said Nazarian.

The Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) will honor Charles Aznavour for his dedication, service, and efforts in Armenia on May 20 at Cipriani Wall Street, 55 Wall Street, New York. The reception will begin at 7 p.m., with the dinner and program beginning at 8 p.m. Proceeds will benefit programs for the elderly in Armenia. For more information or tickets, visit or call (212) 889-5150.

The Honorary Committee for FAR’s Charles Aznavour Tribute includes Liza Minnelli, Tony Bennett, Celine Dion, Placido Domingo, Atom Egoyan, Arsinee Khanjian, Sir Elton John, David Furnish, Michael Bloomberg (mayor of New York City), Charles E. Schumer (U.S. Senator), Eduard Nalbandian (minister of foreign affairs of Armenia), Gerard Araud (ambassador, permanent representative of French Republic to UN), Francois Delattre (ambassador of French Republic to the U.S.), Edward Djerejian, Tatoul Markarian (ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the U.S.), Garen Nazarian, Vartan Gregorian, Clive Gillinson (executive and artistic director, Carnegie Hall), Reynold Levy (president, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts), Joseph Polisi (president, Juilliard School), James Wolfensohn (president emeritus, the World Bank), Archbishop Khajag Barsamian (primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, Eastern), Archbishop Demetrios (primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America), Archbishop Timothy Dolan (archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York), Rabbi Arthur Schneier (president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation), and Bishop Mark Sisk (bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York).

Taleen Babayan

Taleen Babayan

Taleen Babayan earned her masters in journalism from Columbia University in 2008 and her bachelors degree in history and international relations from Tufts University in 2006. Her work has been published widely in both Armenian and non-Armenian media. She can be contacted at


  1. Splendid article on a man who has influenced my life unlike anyone else – a visionary, artist, and a once in a generation voice. I happened upon this article by chance and was not aware of Mr. Aznavour’s strong affinity toward his Armenian heritage. Wonderfully written, enjoyed this very much, especially the comments by his peers and admirers.

  2. Charles Aznavour is the best of the best, music, acting, poetry etc. I have been influenced by him since I was akid.I am a frenchsinger and sing a lot of his music. It is not easy but I do it. We have similar voice style and my friends called me young Aznavour. I am just finishing a new show that I will be doing in the future, A Charles Aznavour show, just his music in both French and English. I would like to meet him one day or see his show. Long live Charles.

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