Singing Grandmas Help Ailing Russian Village

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REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Buranovskiye Babushki of Russia perform their song "Party For Everybody" during a rehearsal for the Eurovison Song Contest final in Baku, May 25, 2012.

The little old ladies of the Russian village of Buranovo have given their village a new lease of life following their starmaking performance at the Eurovision contest.

The pop music contest, which has endured for over a half a century and bought Europeans together in ways the Eurozone has never quite managed to, took place in Baku, Azerbaijan this May. The Buranovskiye Babushki, or Grandmothers of Buranovo, were Russia’s official selection for this year’s contest; decked out in traditional garb, they sang and clapped their way through their song ‘Party For Everybody’ and into Eurovision-watchers’ hearts.

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Buranovskiye Babushki won enough votes to vault into second place in the competition, behind Swedish pop singer Loreen; their video for ‘Party for Everybody’ has become an internet sensation with over 8 million hits.

The grandmas’s success has transformed the fortunes of their home village. The grannies’ fame has helped prompt their local government to build a water pipeline, install new streetlights and provide high-speed internet for the local school. The roads will also see new gravel laid down. As one fan notes on their video – “Never underestimate the power of little old ladies!”

This is a remarkable transformation for Buranovo, a 300-year-old town that, like many other villages dotted around Russian, has endured many hardships. Many of the residents live a frugal life – subsisting on dairy farming and food gathered from the forest.

Olga N. Tuktareva, who is the leader of the singing troupe (although not technically a grandmother yet), described the beginning of their journey in 2008 as a kind of miracle to the New York Times. The ladies, all of whom are deeply religious, were contemplating the possibility of rebuilding their local Church when a music producer came to them with a proposition: an invitation to sing the Queen song “We Are the Champions” in their language, Udmurt, to a group of oil executives in Moscow. Four years later, the group had raised enough money so that repair work actually began while they were at the Eurozone competition.

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Speaking with the New York Times, one of the singers in the group said: “I had a vision that something would change in our village, but I never imagined we would return our church in this way.”