Russian-born singer and songwriting Regina Spektor is never afraid to embrace her roots within her music. Born in 1980 in Moscow, she immigrated to the US with her family in 1989, during Perestroika, when she was almost ten years old. Her piano studies were so serious at the time, that her parents seriously considered staying in the country to let her musical studies flourish. However, the ethnic prejudice and discrimination against Jews at the time was so extreme that Regina’s family did ultimately decide to come to America. After arriving in America, Spektor attended various schools around the Bronx and New Jersey.
Until she was 17, she took lessons at Manhattan School of Music. She often practiced on the piano in her synagogue, the only piano she had access to, or on other hard surfaces. After completing a composition degree at Purchase College, she embraced the downtown New York City scene, and joined others in the realm of anti-folk.
Never one to shy away from her culture or true language, Spektor truly embraces the Russian folk sound in her song “Apres Moi,” in which she features several verses of Boris Pasternak’s poem, “February.”
Apres Moi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbeHq1CLqJ8&feature=related
Февраль. Достать чернил и плакать!
Писать о феврале навзрыд,
Пока грохочущая слякоть
Весною черною горит.
Достать пролетку. За шесть гривен,
Чрез благовест, чрез клик колес,
Перенестись туда, где ливень
Еще шумней чернил и слез.
Где, как обугленные груши,
С деревьев тысячи грачей
Сорвутся в лужи и обрушат
Сухую грусть на дно очей.
Под ней проталины чернеют,
И ветер криками изрыт,
И чем случайней, тем вернее
Слагаются стихи навзрыд.
(Translated by A.Z. Foreman)
February. Get ink. Weep.
Write the heart out about it. Sing
Another song of February
While raucous slush burns black with spring.
Six grivnas* for a buggy ride
Past booming bells, on screaming gears,
Out to a place where rain pours down
Louder than any ink or tears
Where like a flock of charcoal pears,
A thousand blackbirds, ripped awry
From trees to puddles, knock dry grief
Into the deep end of the eye.
A thaw patch blackens underfoot.
The wind is gutted with a scream.
True verses are the most haphazard,
Rhyming the heart out on a theme.
*Grivna: a unit of currency.