TINATIN’s BEYOND BORDERS
Written By: Tinatin Japaridze with Chuck Taylor
Overview written by Marie Carter, author of: The Trapeze Diaries
“I woke with a start. It was 6 a.m. After only two hours of a pale imitation of sleep, I rolled over to see if the tickets I had placed on the center of my bedside table were still there. I took a deep breath, followed by a sigh of relief. This was really happening. And yet I felt panicked. After being connected for so long, I had never heard the man speak aloud. Would his voice sound as I had imagined it all these years? Most importantly, what if I disappointed him….”
As a teenager growing up in Russia in the 1990s, Tinatin dreams of the day she’ll make it as a successful musician in the West. But amid the bleak, unstable post-Soviet reality she lives in with her parents, American music remains taboo in a vast country on the verge of historic upheaval and transition. Practical sensibility mandates that her fantastic goal is little more than fantasy.
That is, until Tinatin happens upon the email address of Oscar- and Grammy-award winning arranger, composer and jazz pianist Dave Grusin, whose music her father constantly listened to on the family’s vintage LP player—part of the soundtrack of her childhood in the Soviet Republic of Georgia. She sends an accidental blank email to Grusin, and to her amazement he responds. This marks the beginning of a heartfelt correspondence between mentor and student for the next 12 years.
Adding to his mythical appeal, music lovers throughout Georgia believed that Dave Grusin is a compatriot who had miraculously managed to cross the Iron Curtain, since “gruzin,” translated from Russian, means “a Georgian man.”
With her parents’ support and Grusin’s consistent and tender encouragement, Tinatin’s nascent musical career takes flight. Picked up by a music promoter in London, she jets between Russia, Europe and New York, which results in her self-penned “Connected” being named Pop Song of the Year in 2007 by the John Lennon Song Contest.
In time, she flees the Soviet Union and sets up shop in New York, ever encouraged by Grusin, and her faraway dream continues to blossom. Single “We the Peoples,” based on the United Nations Charter, is endorsed by the organization, and Tinatin is named one of Billboard magazine’s “Artists To Watch” in 2008. Her international hit “Is It True?” is runner-up in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest—ironically, held in Moscow, where she is heralded as a hometown hero.
And yet, as her career burgeons, a greater dream remains elusive: Will she ever meet Dave Grusin? The music legend tours infrequently and Tinatin fears her long-lived friendship will never evolve beyond inspiring words on a computer screen.
At last, in a deeply moving chapter, Tinatin finally comes face to face with the jazz legend in a New York club, and in a captivating sequence of events, she comes to understand that this remarkable relationship is the marker of her greatest triumph: an indelible friendship that has ultimately made it possible for the young singer to take each forward stride.
Along with the dream-come-true storyline, Tinatin’s focused non-fiction narrative about the impact of her heroic muse—who never asks for anything in return—is a powerful reminder about staying true to one’s hopes and dreams, with a fascinating back-story about Soviet culture during a tumultuous time in its history, and the trials and tribulations of the music industry.
But more so, “Beyond Borders” is an inspiring journey guided by humor, humility and longing that will leave readers knowing that against seemingly impossible odds, dreams do come true.
Tinatin Japaridze is an acclaimed vocalist, songwriter, author, journalist and radio personality. In 2009, her composition “Is It True” was the runner-up among 42 global entries at the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest held in Moscow. Tinatin subsequently signed a worldwide deal with Kobalt Publishing. Her debut single “We the Peoples,” based on the United Nations Charter, is the only UN anthem endorsed by the organization’s top officials, and led Tinatin to be named one of 2008′s “Artists To Watch” in Billboard magazine. She has also hosted and produced her own radio show for UN Radio in New York. Tinatin is also developing a one-woman stage show with renowned Broadway composer/arranger/music director Timothy Graphenreed.
Dave Grusin is renowned as a legendary film composer, jazz pianist and founder of independent record company GRP. With over 100 film scores and 35 full-length albums, to his name, Grusin’s numerous accolades include an Oscar for best original score for The Milagro Beanfield War, and Academy Award nominations for The Champ, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Firm, Havana, Heaven Can Wait and On Golden Pond. He also received a best original song nomination for “It Might Be You” from Tootsie. The late film producer and director Sydney Pollack noted, “Dave can do anything, and he has done everything.”
Chuck Taylor has written about entertainment for 25 years, and served as an editor and writer at Billboard magazine in New York for 14 years. He has been interviewed on music and pop culture topics by numerous TV and cable networks and has been quoted in more than three dozen major newspapers, magazines and periodicals. He is a voting member of NARAS (the Grammy Awards) and a published songwriter for Young Pals Music/BMI. He has worked on-air at country WWOD-AM/WKZZ-FM in Lynchburg Va., as well as voiceover work for commercials, theater and musical recordings.