Raffi Joe Wartanian, a multi-platform Armenian-American artist and Fulbright research follow, has launched PUSHKIN STREET, his debut album of 11 original “gypsy zest” songs under artist name “Raffi Joe”. The album – a fusion of Armenian, Rock, Greek, Gypsy, Funk, Latin, Folk, and Theater Music described as “Salvador Dali meets Frank Zappa meets Dick Dales meets The Beatles meets ‘I’ve never heard anything like that before’ – is available on iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify, CD Baby, Amazon, Soundcloud, Google Play, and other major online and brick & mortar distributors.
Wartanian was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Armenian immigrants from Beirut, Lebanon where he spent most summers of his upbringing absorbing the eclectic and eccentric local Lebanese culture, and spending time with his grandparents, survivors of the Armenian genocide, along with extended family. He attended the Hamasdegh Armenian School in Washington DC every Sunday where he learned to sing and dance before taking up the piano at 8, and the guitar at 12.
Wartanian, a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University, has studied guitar with Paul Bollenback at the Peabody Conservatory, and with Brian Kooken. In Armenia he has studied flamenco guitar with Hakob Jaghatspanyan and oud with Miran Demirjian, both instructors at the Komitas Conservatory of Music in Yerevan. His poetry has been published by the Armenian Weekly, Ararat Magazine, and Armenian Poetry Project, and he has been commissioned to write original music and lyrics for Eileen Khatchadourian who, prior to their collaboration, was awarded Best Rock Album at the 2009 Armenian Music Awards for Midan. Wartanian – who lists the theatrical teachings of Stanislavsky, Meisner, and John Astin as a significant influence in his music – has also worked as an actor with Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco, Theater Hopkins in Baltimore, and with the Hamasdegh Theater Group aboard the 10th annual Armenian Heritage Cruise. Since September 2012, he has performed independently and with collaborators around Armenia, from the villages and towns of Chinchin, Talin, and Qajaran, to the cities of Yerevan, Dilijian, Etchmiadzin, and Kapan.
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