One of the most universally celebrated vocalists and lyricists of his times, 94-year old Charles Aznavour passed away on October 1st at his home in Alpilles, France. While the world mourns the loss of this legendary entertainer whose love ballads captured the hearts of music lovers across the world, Aznavour, born Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian to Armenian genocide survivors, will remain a national treasure not only to his native France but also to the Armenian Nation. For many years, he stood apart as the quintessential Armenian success story, rising from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of international fame. Yet he never seemed to forget his ancestral ties and always found ways to give back to the Armenian people as both a cultural icon, humanitarian and diplomat.
Considered a national hero in Armenia, Aznavour leveraged his international stature in its behalf, beginning with the 1988 earthquake and later serving as Armenia’s ambassador to Switzerland. He further cemented his legacy by establishing the Aznavour Foundation, dedicated to social and cultural projects that inspire youth. Just last May, he stated his solidarity for Armenia’s Velvet Revolution, signaling that he was still engaged and inspired, despite his failing health.
Even in the last chapters of his life, Aznavour continued to dazzle the world with his original brand of romantic ballads and songs, playing to sold-out audiences well into his ninth decade. In 2017, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and, this year, was scheduled to perform live in Armenia at the 2018 Francophonie Summit, hosted in Yerevan starting next week.
In a recent exclusive interview conducted by AGBU News magazine in July of this year, Aznavour insisted that he had no intention of retiring. “I will continue to perform on stage as I once wrote, ‘as long as my heart beats! (Laughs). To read the full interview, visit agbu.org/news-item/frances-favorite-son.
President of AGBU Berge Setrakian, speaking on behalf of the global organization as well as on a personal note, remarked that “Charles Aznavour’s amazing professional accomplishments will be chronicled and celebrated for many days and weeks to come. But it is his genuine spirit of compassion and instinct for connecting with the masses on an emotional level that makes every Armenian stand prouder knowing he is one of our own. While his passing may seem sudden, he was blessed with a long and fortunate life, which he filled to capacity bringing joy, solace and hope to others. Charles Aznavour was a force of nature that shall not pass this way again.”
To read this article in Armenian (Western), click here.