Artsakh native Lyoka uses music to thrive beyond loss

Valeri Lyoka Ghazaryan, an Artsakh native, is the inspiration and voice behind amazing songs such as “Es Der Gam,” “Hascen Im Nuynn A” and “Tun Tareq.” Lyoka was born and raised in Maragha, Martakert in Artsakh. During the Maragha massacre in 1992, his family was forced to flee and finally settled in Stepanakert. They have been forcibly displaced many times as Armenians – first to Stepanakert, then Nor Maraga, then back to Stepanakert and now Yerevan.

Lyoka comes from a family of five children. The talented family used writing as a way of keeping the children busy whenever they were in a shelter, as Azerbaijan reigned terror over Artsakh. “Our family loved to write poetry and to play games so we wouldn’t be scared and to keep us occupied. We would share our poetry with our family members and neighbors and make it like a contest. I’ve always had a love for music. When I first heard about rap, I realized it would be the medium where I can freely express my feelings,” he recalled.

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“Due to the constant forcible displacement, I have never had a stable school environment. I’ve never had the chance to fully integrate. We weren’t always heard, because we were the ones without a stable home, food, new clothing…I realized that my songs had to be about the destiny of my people. I took it upon myself to be the ambassador who sang about our woes, but with a twist. I love life, and I love to live. I don’t focus too much on the bad, but on living,” Lyoka continued.

“I don’t know where I’ve gotten this love to redirect my songs into the quest to live even among all of the losses, not just of home and land, but of dear people. You get tired of the loss. It’s that deep desire to live that inspires me to sing. I also motivate myself with my songs to continue to thrive,” said Lyoka.

“You get tired of the loss. It’s that deep desire to live that inspires me to sing. I also motivate myself with my songs to continue to thrive.”

Lyoka called on Armenian youth in the diaspora to maintain their Armenian identity by holding on to Armenian values, speaking the Armenian language and learning Armenian history. “There should be no difference between the different countries where Armenians reside — no Syriahye, no Amerigahye, no Artsakhahye. Just Armenian,” Lyoka said.

Lyoka’s new album, which will be released shortly, is a combination of gyank (life) and gank (here). He is also planning on returning to the United States in the fall of 2024 with “lots of new surprises.” “I hope those who hear me understand the authentic me, my true essence and my thoughts through my music, as I’m a storyteller. It’s my heart and soul, not just music. I’m an example of someone who has lost so much – home, people, homeland – but never hope. I want to be the beacon of hope towards the things that truly matter in life,” he reflected.

Lyoka, who is very humble, said that one of his favorite phrases is “take it easy.” He firmly believes in looking at life through the lens of gratitude. After all this tragedy, he has the will to embrace life and its beauty.

Talar Keoseyan

Talar Keoseyan

Talar Keoseyan is a mother, educator and writer. She is the author of Vanna's Adventures (discusses Armenian traditions and customs); Mom and Dad, Why Do I Need to Know My Armenian Heritage? (a children's book about being proud of our heritage); Our Tigran and Tigran's Song (written in honor of Tigran Harutyunyan, a fedayee from the 44 Day War). Talar was a member of the Philadelphia AYF (Papken Suni and Sebouh chapters), as well as Homenetmen, Hamazkayin and ARS. She is currently a member of the La Crescenta "Talin" ARS chapter. She can be reached at or Hokees1111 on Instagram.


  1. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it. I’ve been thinking about how many people from Artsakh are now here and truly need support from the diaspora. I wish him success on his journey and have the utmost respect for our country members who care and are involved in supporting our homeland and its independence.

  2. Dear Talar, thank you so much for continuing to spotlight important Armenian figures. Lyoka is a wonderful Armenian role model for our youth as well as a talented musician!

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