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Alsou
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Alsou Ralifovna Abramova (Russian: Алсу́ Рали́фовна Абрамова), better known as just Alsou, was born on June 27th of 1983 in Bugulma, Tatarstan. She is a popular Tatar singer from Russia. She competed in the Eurovision Song Contest 2000 in which she came in second place giving her recognition all over Europe. Alsou later hosted the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 held in Moscow.

Her father, Ralif Rafilovich Safin is a Russian oligarch and a former LUK Oil executive and a current member of the Federal Council, the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament. He is also the owner of the FC Zhemchuzhina-Sochi football team and was named the 100th richest Russian by Forbes Magazine in 2004. Alsou's mother, Razia Iskhakovna, is an architect. She has a younger brother, Renard, and an older brother, Marat. Alsou is an ethnic Tatar and Muslim. When she was a year old her family moved from Tatarstan to Siberia. Until the age of 8, she lived with her grandparents in Siberia.

At 5 years old Alsou asked her parents for a piano and was then allowed to attend a private music school. After living in Moscow due to her father's business, she then moved to New York City and later to the United Kingdom where she entered a private architecture college. While living in London Alsou visited Russia often and on one of these visits in 1998, at the wedding of her brother Marat which was celebrated on the bank of the Moskva River, Alsou sat at a grand piano and sang I Will Always Love You. After marveling at this private performance her family began to persuade her to pursue a professional singing career.

On March 18th of 2006 Alsou married Yan Abramov, a millionaire, who comes from a Mountain Jewish family. Abramov allegedly proposed to her with a fireworks display. On September 7th of 2006 Alsou gave birth to a baby daughter Safi'na at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. The name for the girl was chosen by the childs father, Yan Abramov. It is spelled the same way as Alsou's maiden name but with the accent falling on the second syllable making its pronuncuation different from Alsou's maiden name. On April 29th of 2008 Alsou gave birth to her second daughter and named her Mikella.

In the beginning of her musical career at the age of 15 Alsou was introduced to music manager Valeriy Belotserkovskiy. She again performed "I Will Always Love You" and so strongly impressed him that he began work with Alsou the very next day. Her debut Russian album titled Alsou (Russian: Алсу́) was released September 16th of 1999. It was very successful in Russia and spawned 3 top singles: "Zimniy Son" (English: Winter Dream) "Vesna" (English: Spring) and "Inogda" (English: Sometimes). After the huge success of Alsou's debut Russian album she was signed to Universal Music Russia and became its first domestic artist. By 2000 more than 700,000 legal copies of CD Alsou were sold in Russia.

In 2000, Alsou recorded her first English language single "Solo" and was entered into the Eurovision Song Contest 2000, eventually finishing second overall. "Solo" went on to sell 100,000 copies and became the biggest selling single of all time in Russia, surpassed only by her next single, a duet with Enrique Iglesias entitled "You're My #1" of which she declared:

"I really enjoyed performing with him in the Kremlin and I hope our paths will cross again".

After her success in Eurovision 2000, Alsou began a large-scale tour of Russia. She celebrated her 17th birthday by performing in her native town of Bugulma, where 86,000 of the 120,000 resident population gathered in the main town square to see her. Alsou performed "Solo" again at Congratulations - the 50th anniversary Eurovision concert in Copenhagen, Denmark, in October of 2005. During 2000–2001, Alsou began working on her debut English album also called Alsou, which was released in Russia on June 28, 2001. It was also released in Germany, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic and Malaysia. The lead single "Before You Love Me" was released in the UK on April 30th of 2001, soon after charting at #1 on MTV Select and several TV appearances by Alsou. However, it only managed to chart at #27 in the UK Singles Chart. Later that year it was also released in Germany and Australia.

A follow-up single, "He Loves Me", was released only in Germany on October 15th of 2001, with limited success. The album was cancelled in the UK, though released through 2001–2002 in several European countries and in Malaysia. Alsou's debut Russian album was re-released twice – in 2001 and 2002, spawning two singles – "Osen" (English: Autumn) and "Kogda Lubov Ko Mne Pridiot" (English: When Love Comes To Me). In the summer of 2002, Alsou began a tour of the former Soviet block countries. Her new video for an up-and-coming single "Letyashaya Nad Oblakami" (English: Flying Over The Clouds) was shown in Russian cinemas before the Russian romantic movie Atlantida which Alsou had recorded two songs for.

In August 2002 more studio sessions began for a second Russian longplay. Alsou was also preparing for her concerts in Moscow at the same time. The "Trilogy" project was deemed by the local papers as one of the most important social and cultural events. The uniqueness of the "Trilogy" idea was that no one singer in the world had ever given three completely different performances during a period of only 10 days.

The first show was held in the "Rossiya" Concert Hall, where Alsou performed her old set entitled "Alsou And Her Authors", which had never been presented in Moscow before. The second show was an exclusive orchestral concert in Tchaikovsky Hall, where there are only 1,500 seats. The third show was a Euro pop show entitled "Solo". It was held in the Olympic Sport Complex and contained new Russian and English songs, with a fantasy-oriented set. After the third show, Alsou shot a video for the song "Vchera" (English: Yesterday).

On January 23th of 2003, Alsou released her new Russian album entitled 19. The CD was received well by critics, and by April 2003 the sales had reached 500,000 copies. 19 spawned such singles as "Vsyo Ravno" (English: Anyway), "Vchera" (English: Yesterday), "Perviy Raz" (English: The First Time), "Mechty" (English: Dreams). After the success of 19, she was nominated for the First National Music Award, "Muz-TV". On June th of 2003, after arriving in Moscow from working in foreign studios, Alsou unexpectedly found herself the winner of the Best Female Artist nomination. To support the sales of album 19, Alsou gave successful performances in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Israel and Kazakhstan.

For almost four years, Alsou worked on her second English album 'Inspired'. It was recorded in London and Los Angeles. The lead single, "Always On My Mind", was written by Alsou and Morten Schjolin. The video was shot in May 2004 by well-known director Joseph Kahn. At the beginning of 2005, the single premiered on Capital FM and became the best news single of the week. However, despite the heavy UK promotion, a sexy video, touring as a support act with boyband Westlife, and performing in the London club G-A-Y, the commercial single was cancelled by Alsou's UK label Mercury Records, though physical copies were available for a short time, 'Inspired' remains unreleased.

Alsou is credited on most of the tracks recorded for Inspired. The album was produced by several of the industry's best producers including Rhett Lawrence and the Bass Bros. Inspired features a cover version of Lionel Richie's "Hello". Another well-circulated track is the Nelly-featured "Wish I Didn't Know", though only a rough demo has leaked. The album is more guitar-flavored than Alsou's previous works. Originally it was intended to record the album with mostly ballads, but then the album's direction changed. In 2006, she recorded a wedding song, "Miracles", written by Alsou and her then-future husband Yan Abramov. It was released as a limited single for the guests of her wedding.

Alsou's third Russian album Samoe Glavnoe (English: The Main Thing"), her first LP in 5 years, was released March 31st of 2008 by Universal Music Russia. The singles from this album are "Nebo" (English: Sky), "Samoe Glavnoe" (English: The Main Thing), "A u moei ljubvi" (English: And My Love Has...). During 2008 Alsou recorded an album in the Tatar language as well. Released in the fall and named Tugan Tel / Rodnaya Rech (English: Mother's Tongue), the album includes several Tatar peoples songs, others written specially for Alsou, some Tatar music instruments and a choir. All proceeds were given by Alsou and Universal Music for a sponsorship of talented orphans from Tatarstan.

In June 2004, Alsou performed in the British mystical thriller Spirit Trap with Billie Piper, Luke Mably, Emma Catherwood and Sam Troughton. The film premiered in August 2005. Alsou's powerful self-written ballad "Teardrops" plays over the credits. The film got basically poor reviews and small returns at the box office, and it was soon released on DVD. A release of her second motion picture was awaited in 2008 and earlier in 2006 she starred in Russian historical drama "Vivat, Anna!" from a cycle of films about the Russian Monarchy. She also recorded a song for the movie, a melody from which serves as the intro track of "Samoe Glavnoe".

Alsou is currently selecting a single for her next Russian album of original songs she is working on. Currently she is also recording a double Russian album of lullabies and popular children songs. In the beginning of 2010, she started recording a jazz album with the help of George Benson. She has presented the final of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. The hosts are normally required to translate their monologue in French, to which she demonstrated her French quite fluently for the event.

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