Vitas – Soul
Vitas (/ˈviːtɑːs/; Russian: Витас) is the stage name of Vitaliy Vladasovich Grachov (Ukrainian: Віталій Владасовіч Грачов), a Ukrainian singer, singing mainly in Russian language, and songwriter.
Known for his high falsetto voice and a vocal range of 5 octaves, he has been given the nickname “Prince of the Dolphin Voice” in China. His music is often difficult to categorize, incorporating elements of techno, dance, classical, jazz, and folk music. His 2000 song, “Opera No. 2” (“Opera #2”; released as a single in 2001) has been forwarded frequently via the Internet, which accounts for much of his worldwide recognition. He designs his own stage costumes. DIVA (ДИВА) is the name of the band that accompanies Vitas during his concerts.
Vitas has achieved much notability through Russian television, and since 2005 his career has advanced into Asian markets. He has signed with entertainment labels such as Universal which distributes his music in Taiwan, and he has toured extensively in China and several other countries. He has performed duets with many other singers including Demis Roussos, Lucio Dalla, and Vitas’ grandfather Arkadiy Davydovich Marantsman (Аркадий Давыдович Маранцман), with whom he sings “Friendship”.
Born Vitaliy Vladasovich Grachyov on 19 February 1979 in Odessa, Ukraine,Vitas was raised in his hometown Odessa and is of Russian descent. He showed an interest in music from an early age. The young Vitaliy’s grandfather taught him to play accordion, and he began writing songs as a child. He later studied music more formally. He attended an art school in Odessa and as a teenager appeared in various theatrical productions. He was “discovered” by a visiting producer/manager, Sergey Pudovkin, who asked Vitas if he would come to Moscow. This invitation was extended on the basis of Vitas’ acting skills: Pudovkin had not yet heard him sing. Vitas traveled to Moscow with demos of his music and began working with Pudovkin.
Rise to fame and early career
Vitas came to public attention in Russia in December 2000 with the song “Opera No. 2”, which was notable for his surprisingly high-pitched and energetic vocals. In the music video, Vitas portrays an eccentric lonely man with fish gills who lives in a bathtub with jars of fish and plays the accordion naked.
Vitas’ concert program Philosophy of Miracle premiered at the State Kremlin Palace on 29 March 2002, establishing a record for Vitas as the youngest artist ever to perform a solo concert at this prestigious venue. He also presented his fashion collection “Autumn Dreams” on the stage of the State Kremlin Palace on 29 September 2002.
Vitas received an invitation from Lucio Dalla, the composer, who created “Caruso”, to perform this song together with the author at the concert “San Remo in Moscow” held in the State Kremlin Palace in 2003. Vitas’ voice enchanted not only the audience but Mr. Dalla himself, so the composer invited Vitas to come to Rome to take part in the rehearsals of “Toska”, the modern version of the legendary opera.
In dedication to his mother who died in 2001, Vitas released two albums, The Songs of My Mother and Mama. The Songs of My Mother included classic Russian songs which are sometimes considered to be the “gold reserves” of Russian pop-music. Another album Mama included several new songs composed by Vitas. In November 2003, Vitas presented his second tour program, The Songs of My Mother in the Russia Concert Hall, Moscow. Compared to the flamboyant nature his previous Philosophy of Miracle tour, The Songs of My Mother was more conservative and centred around classic Russian songs. From 2004 to 2006, Vitas’ management, the Production Center “Pudovkin” continued the “The Songs of My Mother” tour in Russia and the USA, Germany, Kazakhstan, Israel and the Baltic States.
In addition to his singing career, Vitas also starred in a murder mystery television series called “Beloved Scoundrel” in English, and “Сволочь ненаглядная” in Russian in which he played (appropriately) a pop singer with an unusually high voice. He also starred in a comedy called Crazy Day.
Development of music and image
In June 2006, Vitas was invited by CCTV to take part in the grand event “The Year of Russia in China” in Beijing. Vitas performed two songs, Star and “Opera No. 2,” in that program. This marked the start of Vitas’ popularity in China. In the following years he toured extensively in China and also performed at a welcoming ceremony prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Vitas’ “Return Home” tour started in 2006, which was similar to Songs of My Mother in its conservative atmosphere. The concert performed in St. Petersburg on 4 March 2007 was later released on DVD on his website as well as officially in some countries, though many songs have been removed. The full concert in Moscow was later released on DVD, but is only purchasable on Vitas’ website as well as at his concerts.
In October 2007, Vitas was signed with now-defunct American label Gemini Sun Records. Gemini Sun has released the Audio Visual Connect Series Vitas compilation CD + DVD set featuring 8 music videos with the corresponding songs also on audio CD, plus a bonus audio track. In 2008, he also released Light of A New Day, a 40-minute track of non-lyrical vocalization and instrumentation. The song is available as a free download on his website, and has been acclaimed by fans for use in music therapy.
The “Sleepless Night” tour includes concerts in China and has a more elaborate presentation than the more conservative “Return Home” programme. Vitas performed his “Return Home” concert in Bucharest, Romania on 25 February 2009. This concert was broadcast on Romanian television networks TVR2 and TVRi, achieving their highest ratings in twelve months Also, a benefit concert, with Vitas performing “The Star” was held on 12 May 2009 in Sichuan province in memory of the victims of the earthquake that occurred the previous year; a song known as “Mommy and Son” was released in late October 2009 in remembrance of earthquake victims. This is the very first title track of the new album “Mommy and Son” (released on 1 September 2011), which includes new songs, such as “C’est La Vie” (French for “Such is life”), “Once More”, “Let the Father Teach!”, “Young Rook” and others.
Vitas played the role of Gude in the Chinese film Mulan, which premiered in Beijing on 16 November 2009.He has recorded music for the film’s soundtrack.
In early 2011, Vitas performed a series of seven Sleepless Night concerts in North America. Concerts were held in New York, Toronto, Chicago, Miami, Vancouver, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Vitas also appeared in the 2011 Chinese film The Founding of a Party, playing the role of Grigori Voitinsky. He also starred with Huang Shengyi in the musical One Night To Be Star.
Vitas has been secretive about his personal life and declines to have interviews about it. Although Vitas and his management have previously denied that he was married, Vitas married his wife Svetlana in 2006. They have a daughter, Alla, born in 2008. In February 2010, during a concert in St. Petersburg, Vitas sang the song “Lullaby” for his daughter. In January 2012 Vitas and his family were interviewed on the talk show “Let Them Talk”. In March of that year, a distraught Vitas appeared on the talk show again to confront the allegations of a man who claimed that he was the biological father of Vitas. After much backlash from Vitas’ friends and family, the DNA results proved he was not Vitas’ father. As showing of forgiveness to the man’s family, Vitas sang and danced with the man’s mother.
Vitas was arrested May 10, 2013 for hitting a cyclist. Russian TV channels: Russia-1 and Channel One Russia reported widely about this accident. These and other TV channels displayed Vitas’ driving license with his personal data, which had been presented to journalists by a police officer. The incident took place just northeast of Moscow near the VVC Exhibition Centre. The cyclist was not hurt and proceeded to film the situation that took place with the police afterward. The video depicts an unshaven and swaying Vitas being held by authorities, his wife Svetlana begging the officers to protect them and not allow the bystanders to film and taunt, with his four-year-old daughter crying in the background. Reports later surfaced alleging that Vitas threatened the cyclist with a fake pistol, but the court ruled these accusations to be unsubstantiated. Vitas was fined 100,000 rubles (£2,000/ €2,250) on August 26, 2013 for assaulting a policeman. He had kicked at the officer in an automatic response to protect his wife. He apologized for this action. The scandal did not seem to affect his popularity in Russia, as he afterward sold out at all upcoming appearances.
Vitaly’s grandfather, Arkady Davidovich, died on July 29, 2013 at the age of 90. Vitas was close to his grandfather and felt that the scandal that followed after the accident contributed to his grandfather’s death.
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