Elya Finn

Elya Finn

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Total Song Plays: 51   
Member Since: 2006
   Last Login: over 30 days ago

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Elya Finn' BIO

Elya Finn is a singer songwriter.

Born in a small village in Siberia. Elya Finn began singing as soon as she could speak. She remembers walking around her village at two years old, in a long winter coat, holding on to her father's hand while singing traditional folk songs to the amusement of her neighbors. Elya Finn was destined for a life of music. Both her father and mother were singers. Her uncles and cousins were skilled in piano, guitar, and balailaka. Her entire, large, extended family was musical, and gathered together in the evenings to sing traditional songs. They all continuously performed in community events. When she was three years old her family moved to the hilltop town of Kozmodemyansk, located on the Volga River. At 4 1/2 Elya was enrolled in music school where she began learning piano.

As a first grader Elya Finn was part of ensemble group of six girls, which upon their first performance were named by the audience as Crystal, "Because their voices are like crystal." It was in Koszmodemyansk that she was further initiated into the arts with dance classes and singing classes. She recalls going to music school every day to learn piano, theory and harmony.

At 14 Elya left Koszmodemyansk and attended Palantay Music College, in a town 100 miles away from her home. She spent 4 years learning classical piano. Then, at 17, Elya had her greatest introduction to North American music when she became a member of a Jazz ensemble. She fell in love with Gershwin, and "Rhapsody in Blue" is still one of her favorites. After graduation from Music College she returned home to teach, but felt bored and knew this was not where she wanted to end up. So Elya set her eyes on Moscow. During her time in Moscow, Elya earned her Master's in World Literature and Linguistics at the Krupskaya Institute, joined a band that played popular Russian music, and attended a Jazz College to learn Jazz composition. As she grew as a musician, she learned European pop songs while listening to The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.

During one of the major waves of emigration from Russia to the United States, an opening up period in 1991, during Glasnost and Perestroika, Elya went directly to San Francisco, California. Once in the USA, she began to discover her talent for song composition although while in Russia, throughout all her training and practice, Elya never wrote songs, only did arrangements. As she describes it, one day she began humming a melody and wondered where this melody came from. It took her several days to realize it was her own a melody she created. After this, she started writing songs and couldn't stop, and hasn't stopped writing since.

Elya's first songs, created in collaboration with various lyricists were performed for a Russian Puppet Theater directed by Svetlana Smelansky in San Francisco. She met Rimma Goldman, a poet and lyricist, who wrote the Russian lyrics to Elya's songs. These were pop and folk-based songs. Then in 1997 Elya began working with poet-songwriter, Michael Rothenberg, whose avant-garde sensibility rubbed off on Elya, and the collaboration became the basis for her present work. As noted Jazz writer David Meltzer describes, Elya Finn's new CD "When I Met You," "Elya Finn's songs sound like Weimar Lenya & postwar Nico, lushly affirmative at the same time being edged w/ cosmic weltschmertz. "

Elya's song "The Fair"(written with Michael Rothenberg) was nominated "The best song of the year 2003" in the West Coast Songwriters Competition. She continues to write and arrange music, and is working on a new album and performing "Balka" a Russian folk band in which she sings traditional Russian songs and plays original Russian instruments.

Known as " The Russian Princess" Elya Finn performs her original songs around the San Francisco Bay Area, and continues to teach classical piano, jazz, vocals, songwriting and composition.