By C. HORATIUS MOSQUERA
Dimash Kudaibergen. For many Filipinos, the name does not yet ring a bell. But for hundreds of millions of Chinese and central Asians, Russians and eastern Europeans, this 25-year-old Kazakh music phenomenon is famous for his singular singing style and six-octave voice range.
Art Knows No Boundaries
He came into prominence in eastern Europe and central Asia as an award-winning singer in his teens. Then In 2017, when he was only 22, he was invited, in an experiment, by a Chinese television network to join a singing competition show designed for established professional singers, where he immediately made an impression on his very first appearance to viewers not only in China but around the world.
His every performance on the show reached an average of 50 million viewers, with 200 million followers on Weibo. Since then, Dimash, as he is better known, has become one of the hottest stars in China. Television shows regularly report a five- to six-fold increase in viewership whenever he is scheduled as a guest, and his first album achieved platinum status within 37 seconds of release.
In Russia, one of the country’s honored national artists has begun collaborating with Dimash, even composing songs tailored especially for his unique talents. He is looking a lot like the Next Big Thing waiting to take over the world.
A song is only as good as the singer, and exceptional artistry knows no boundaries, as evidenced by the cross-over appeal of Dimash who crosses the divide of race and creed, language and culture, age and sex. But what makes an artist like Dimash so appealing?
The late great opera soprano Maria Callas left behind a number of recordings as proof of her tremendous talent. But there are many witnesses who have said that the recordings could not capture the brilliant artistry of a live Callas performance, now remembered only in the collective memory of legend. When Callas sang, it was claimed, her voice touched the souls of her listeners, and they were brought to another world. Or they were taken out of time. They could listen to her sing forever, even if they could hardly understand what she was singing about.
Marketing communications research has long showed that there are universal values that resonate across cultures. These include belonging, love, self-esteem, achievement, social recognition, fun/enjoyment/excitement, security, and the welfare of future generations.
This is interesting, because it could help explain the appeal of a Maria Callas or a Dimash. The best performing artists do not only entertain, they bring joy and excitement to their audience. They are not only naturally talented, but they are also well-trained, showing the best of what a human being can achieve.
It is this excellence that resonates with the audience. People react positively when they hear “the voice of an angel,” because they are responding to the beauty created and the emotions conveyed by the artist, which transcends the ordinariness of daily life.
No Overnight Success
God-given talent can only take a person so far. To be excellent in what you do requires a lot of preparation. Success does not happen overnight.
Take, for example, our very own Broadway superstar and Disney princess Lea Salonga. She originated roles that have won her accolades the world over. She is forever Miss Saigon, and more–the timeless star of the musical stage. Starting as a precocious child talent, she is also reputed to be hardworking to the point of being a perfectionist. Blessed with a crystal-clear voice, perfect pitch, and a prodigious memory, she earned her dues on the world stage. She has consistently maintained a work ethic that has helped enhance her natural talent and sustain her career.
This is the same with the example of Dimash. As some commentators point out, it helps that he is young, good-looking, and an exceptional singer. But his vocal technique, fluidity, and range are the result of continuous training. He has been harnessing these natural gifts since he was five years old and they are now thus developed.
In college, he had classical music training (opera), to which he later added contemporary music. Despite a hectic multinational career, he is still taking up his master’s degree (composition). He plans to pursue his doctorate after.
There is also another thing that sets Lea Salonga and Dimash apart from other performing artists. More than being attracted to fame and fortune, they have a strong sense of responsibility to their audience.
They believe in setting the bar high for their art, so they continue learning and finding ways to improve themselves. They strive to set the right example to their fans because they understand the power they have as artists to influence the people around them. Hence, they are conscious that they represent the best of their countries and cultures to the world, and comport themselves accordingly. They promote proper family values, and healthy living.
This is significant, because Filipinos can learn much from their examples. In this age of social media and immediate gratification, this shows that there is no short cut to excellence. Mastering the basics sets the strong foundation to build on.
The entertainment industry is awash with one-hit wonders and forgettable clone artists, as the industry feeds a short-lived millennial mindset of “more, more” and “next, next.” Then and now, the timelessness of unforgettable artistry in an age of planned obsolescence is only made possible through good old hard work.