Former Eurovision Tamar Kaprelian returned to her home country to help young women amplify their voices.
“The Armenian culture is very much a male-dominant culture,” she explained. “And what we’re trying to really do is we’re trying to give women the opportunity, through music, to be able to say, you know what? I am also just as important as the opposite sex.”
Kaprelian started a music program called Nvak, which is short for the Armenian verb “to play music,” after competing for Armenia in the 2015 Eurovision, an annual European songwriting completion.
“Music allows people to talk about issues that they might not necessarily feel comfortable speaking about otherwise,” she said.
2015 marked the 100th anniversary of the start of a massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in what has been known as the Armenian genocide—an estimated 1.5 million Armenians died. Kaprelian says decades of oppression have resulted in a struggle to preserve Armenian culture.
“Even though music is something that runs very deep in the Armenian culture—it’s in our blood—the Armenian people had other things that they were struggling for,” she explained. “They had other—they had huge, huge, you know, social, economic, political difficulties that they had to deal with. As a result of those things, many things, music wasn’t really something that, I think, Armenians focused on, or at least music education wasn’t.”
Nvak has expanded to include programs in Israel and Malawi with hopes of continuing to expand in other developing nations.