Datevik was born in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. All the members of her family are musicians. Her mother is Ophelia Hambartsumian, the renowned master of folk song; her father Norair Hovanesian, is an expert kamancha (folk string instrument) player; her brother, a classical violinist.
“My mother’s clear, resonant voice and her masterful renditions of folk songs provided much nourishment to my soul and greatly influenced the formation of my eventual musical world. Various kinds of music were continually played in our house: Folk, Classical, Contemporary, and Jazz. Since my brother was a devotee of jazz, naturally I too was inspired by that music. It’s amazing how pleasing and authentic the artistry of Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Ella Fitzgerald and other musical geniuses began to sound in my inner self. It didn’t take long for me to feel and understand that jazz music would become my lifelong companion.”
Datevik made her first recording at the age of 11 with Harold Arlen’s song It’s Only a Paper Moon. Thereafter, music and song became her focal point and her life’s raison d’être. While continuing her musical education in the field of conducting, Datevik also embarked on performance tours in Europe, the United States, Asia, and Africa. She juggled participation in well-known jazz festivals with solo performances, movies, and teaching. By 1979 this rising song star had earned the title of “The First Lady Of Jazz” in the Soviet Union, which she maintained for nine consecutive years. It was during that time that her solo albums—“Day Dream,” “Concerto For Voice & Orchestra,” and “Doors”--were recorded. Leaving everything behind, Datevik relocated to the United States.
“In 1990 I was introduced to a very thoughtful, kindhearted gentleman, Pierre Sprey, president of Mapleshade Record Productions. That meeting marked the beginning of my musical career in the United States. Mr. Sprey opened not only the doors of his heart to me, but also those of his studio; furthermore, for a recording session he proposed that the wonderful and very talented pianist Larry Willis and his quartet accompany me. I consider my Mapleshade studio experience with the magical music of Larry Willis as one of the unforgettable highlights of my life.”
The result of their collaboration was Datevik’s first CD in the United States, “Ballads from the Black Sea” @ 1997 Mapleshade productions (301) 627-0525, which prompted Pierre Sprey to comment: “A rich new jazz voice of superb musicianship, earthy and passionate and swinging, proves that soul and jazz know no boundaries.”
“Although I am a jazz singer, I have not forgotten or become detached from my Armenian roots for one minute. The Armenian folk song has always been a major influence on me. I might describe the group of songs presented on this CD as an eruption of my soul, caused by my cup filling up drop by drop and finally running over.
Furthermore, my coming into contact with the talented American-Armenian pianist and composer Armen Donelian had a great impact on the subsequent activities of us both. As an expert jazz musician, composer, and arranger, Armen demonstrated a mastery of Armenian song, displaying in particular a marvelous grasp of its nuances. It was an absolutely incredible journey for both of us. Our idea was to build a very delicate bridge, linking together two beautiful worlds --twentieth century jazz and timeless Armenian folk song--through total improvisation. Thank you, Armen, from the bottom of my heart.
My special thanks to the Brazilian drummer Portinho and David Finck for their unique effort; together, they elevated all our ideas and made the arrangements sound even better.
A million thanks to the talented and sensitive Arto Tuncboyaciyan for the song Gakavik. I will always feel that there was an element of magic at work enabling Alex Foster to feel the Armenian embellishments so well.
And then there was the burning energy of Paquito D’Rivera, which was just right for Yarimo. My deep appreciation to Ben Riley, the sensitive guest drummer for the beautiful ballad Hov Arek. And, of course many thanks to Steve Berrios, who introduced such a fresh wave of colors into Shalakho.
Most of all, I wish to acknowledge the inimitable contribution of the producer, the legendary George Avakian. It is difficult for me to find words to express my deep gratitude to him. It is owing to him--and him only--that my dream, having ripened over the years, came to fruition.”