Lara !

This month we will continue the exciting topic of what it’s like to be a woman in the rock’n’roll World. Like last month, I’ve invited a big Russian female star to give us her great story and insights. The icon in question is Lara Markeeva, the singer and leader of the Moscow-based group “Rock’n’Lora”. I’ve already written in this column about this fantastic group and there is no doubt the real shining star of the band is Lara. She has charisma, looks and talent in buckets. Plus as you will see below, her personality is strong and dynamic – “she is not backwards in coming forwards”! Like so many Russian women, she is beautiful and self-confident, the qualities of the most exciting kind of woman ! Some of the photos you can see were taken at her latest concert at the Esse Café in Moscow, on 12th May. As usual she put on a fantastic show, wowing the audience with her rockin’ talent. And now, over to you Lara, for your story as a woman in rock’n’roll.

As a young woman in rock ‘n roll, I have experienced no problems specifically by my being a woman; no problems, on the contrary, only advantages! All the attention lavished on my personality, lifestyle and work is owing to rock ‘n roll. I have a lot more men around me, especially in the music circles. There’s only one thing that’s hard – always to justify people’s expectations to project the style of the ‘40s-‘50s but to also be independent and unique, not a copy of a pin-up girl.

I can’t say that the woman in rock’n’roll who has influenced me greatly is a historical figure. She is our contemporary. This is the Irish singer Imelda May. Her voice, incredible energy and beauty opened the amazing world of rock ‘n roll to me. My repertoire features many of Imelda’s songs, and even though I have never been her student, I learned a lot from her.

In my view, real rock‘n’roll in Russia is just now starting to gain popularity because the music popular in the USSR during the ‘50s was different. This is why all the great female rock ‘n roll musicians live in our times. I admire Zhanna Aguzarova’s distinctive individuality; she’s already a truly historical figure, an amazing singer (Zhanna was the legendary singer with the 1980s and 90s Russian group “Bravo” and is still performing). Among my soul sisters in rock’n’roll, I would like to mention Olga Oleynikova (a great singer based in Moscow). She is a true bearer of the rock’n’roll traditions! It’s from her that I learned all the ins and outs of music: Olga taught me to feel the rock’n’roll in my heart.

Here’s how I first got into rock’n’roll. At first, I was interested in jazz and blues but there came a time when those styles seemed a little boring, even sometimes sad to me. Then my attention switched to the more life-affirming music of the time and that’s how I got into rock ‘n roll. Regarding difficulties, it’s that nowadays the general public is more familiar with male rock’n’roll pioneers like Bill Haley, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. And almost nobody knows about the women, which is a shame because they were fabulous.

The most significant events for me are always my concerts! Many of the people in the audience don’t expect to see a young woman on the rock’n’roll stage. When I start charging them with my energy and enchanting them with my feminine allure, they embrace the spirit of the ‘50s and discover this style for themselves in a new way.

Many people are surprised to find out that I’m not only the soloist but also the front woman of the Rock’n’Lora band. They admire my ability to manage a group of men. But I shock the audience in small clubs when I get down from the stage during musical interludes and start dancing real rock ‘n roll ! First, they’re mesmerised by my voice and then charmed by my flying skirt and socks.

I have never felt harassed for being a woman in rock ‘n roll. Rather, complications arise simply because the work of a musician is hard for a young woman both emotionally and physically. That’s why men predominate in my professional field.

My favourite song performed by a woman is Fujiyama Mama. This is the magnificent Wanda Jackson’s most famous hit, her energy is entrancing.

Of course I’m optimistic about the future of women in rock’n’roll. The leading positions in this music style are certainly occupied by men, but where would they be without us women? Beauty should be everywhere! Let men perform real rock ‘n roll, while we have our own special female rock ‘n roll which is playful, flirtatious, and sensual. Men definitely can’t do the pin-up style flirting on stage!

Outside of rock’n’roll, I like to eat tasty foods even though you can’t tell that by my slim shape. In addition, I enjoy both preparing the food and serving it. When traveling, I always try the local cuisine even if that means Chinese roaches or strange shellfish. Because you have to try everything in this life and keep only the best for yourself!

Thankyou Lara, for some great writing and insights! Next month, the great story of Women in Rock’n’Roll continues, with a special article from another great female Russian Star.

Richard Hume