by Slava Tsukerman

The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the most popular events of the European cultural life. This time the annual event took place in the capital of Azerbaijan – Baku in the last week of May. And it became a real big European sensation because of the band that represented this year Russia: “Buranovskie Babushki” (Grannies from Buranovo). There is no secret that show business is the business of young people.   This year the average age of the participants in the Eurovision Song Contest, was 26 years old. The average age of the “Grannies from Buranovo ” – 69. It is the first time in history then performers of such age participate in this competition.

Buranovo is a big village in Udmurtia, an area in Ural Mountains, populated by Udmurts – the small ethnic group of Finno-Ugric ancestry. The population of the Russia’s Udmurt Republic is now about 1,5 million. There is 658 living in Buranovo.

“Grannies from Buranovo” band was created several years ago as a local folk song ansamble. The Grannies never considered themselves professionals.  Unexpected success came to them after their first appearance on Russian TV couple of years ago. Now they sometimes are singing not only udmurtian folk sons and songs of their own creation, but also songs of famous Russian rock singers and even Beatles and Deep Purple in Udmurt language.

Though now famous performers, they still keep working in their farms, milking cows and planting potatoes.   The band includes 77 years old Natalya Pugacheva.   She is the oldest ever participant in the Eurovision contest.

She has four children, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Natalya was seven years old first grade student when World War II erupted. She never had a chance to resume her studies and worked all her life at the Buranovo collective farm.

Now the cultural activity of “Grannies from Buranovo” is not limited to singing. Grannies helped to open a museum in the Buranovo village club. It’s exhibit consists of two hundred years old kerchiefs, old gramophone and some old utensils.

There is one other topic, which seems to be very important for “grannies”. In 1939 Buranovo`s only church was destroyed by Bolsheviks. Now Udmurtia as the rest of Russia is eagerly returning to pre-communist religious traditions. But the nearest church is located 40 kilometers from Buranovo. One of “grannies” in her interview to a Russian TV station said that band’s goal in performing is to raise money to build a church in their village.

The “Grannies from Buranovo” took second place at the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku with their hit “Party for Everybody.”  But they became the real stars of event.

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The first place was taken by the band “Jedward” – the 20-year-old twins – John and Edward Grime from Ireland.  The boys envy the success of their senior citizen rivals. “Jedward” want to date the “Grannies from Buranovo”. John told the Daily Star newspaper: ”I think they’re super hot.” Edward added: ”If we went on a date we could do knitting or something cool like that.”


Europe experiences the sharp rise in the popularity of folklore for a couple of years now. But until now there was nothing comparable to “Grannies from Buranovo” in show business.  If to believe to opinion of many observers in Russian media, with the success of  the “Grannies” to Europe came a new trend. Some consider it to be a new cult – cult of the old age.

Updated: July 2, 2012 — 3:08 pm
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