Dimash Kudaibergen – The Youngster With A Stunning Voice
Dimash created the perfect storm when he chose to sing iconic French song S.O.S D’un Terrien En Detresse in the inaugural round of a singing competition that made all of China, France and listeners across the world sit up!
A bemused host on French TV asked how plausible is it that a boy from Central Asia who speaks neither French nor mandarin, picks a French song to sing (of all places) in China whose people do not understand the language either, yet received the highest votes and set social media abuzz in China and around the globe?
It was a revelation for everyone who heard Dimash for the first time. ‘S.O.S’ struck an emotional cord so deep listeners were stunned despite most not understanding the lyrics. He was virtually unknown. Few had anticipated the jaw-dropping performance to come as he modestly took a bow; his eyes sweeping over the audience with a soft steady gaze as the lights dimmed. The audience and certainly most of the participants were in shock and disbelief. Surely this boy is no rookie? This was as polished as one would expect from a world class singer.
Listeners who discovered him on YouTube flooded sites with comments:
“This iconic song (from the French rock opera Starmania) is near 40 years old…but has never, I say NEVER, been performed as well as by this human, this ‘terrien’. This performance is indeed le vrais cris de coeur as it was intended. I tip my hat to you, sir. Salut!”
“He seems to be singing for everyone on this planet. What’s great is that we could listen to him all over again and we will still have goosebumps. It never stops.”
“There are no words except perhaps ‘Otherworldly’. I heard someone say this not a voice but an instrument; perhaps that is a better description”.
“I like how he’s the one who’s singing about SOS, and I’m just here needing breathing assistance.”
Humorous reactor on YT .… “Game over. All contestants can go home now!”
Who is Dimash Kudaibergen? When and how did he acquire such an exquisite voice and stage presence?
‘S.O.S D’un Terrien En Detresse’ – Delivered with raw power, stunning vocal range, sophisticated technique and incredible emotion. Video credit : Ian Kain
Athough Dimash had won several notable competitions in his country since young, he was little known outside of Kazakhstan. The immensely talented singer became prominent in the Russian CIS countries (Commonwealth of Independent States) when he was selected the Grand Prix winner of the International Pop Song Performers Contest “Vitebsk 2015”. The competition was the highlight of the International Festival of Arts “Slavic Bazaar in Vitebsk”. He beat singers from 21 countries before an international jury from 9 countries. In the first final he sang Russian song ‘Opyat Metel’ receiving a near perfect score from the jury.
Again the Windstorm – Video credit : Nang Gat (Dimash Kudaibergenov Vietnam Fan Page)
‘Singer 2017’ was a quality local entertainment show broadcast by Hunan TV from January to April. Unlike a talent search, established and well known singers from China and nearby Asian countries were invited to pit their skills against one another. Each week the contestant with the lowest score is eliminated to be replaced by a new artist. Dimash a 22 year old third year music/performing arts student ( Kazakh National University of Arts) on the cusp of a professional career was invited as a ‘wildcard’ entry. He was the youngest participant in the show’s history.
Besides the challenge of competing against singers several decades ahead in age and experience and performing before an all-Chinese voting audience, he had to deal with the language barrier, new environment, cuisine and culture. Yet he set the bar on his debut by garnering the highest percentage of the votes which remained unsurpassed.
Dimash was born with a natural singing voice of 4.5 octaves into a loving, close-knit family. His parents and grandparents are notable singers and musicians in Kazakhstan’s cultural scene. His mother is a fine soprano and was his first teacher. The rich musical environment and cultural heritage he grew up with would impact his personal and artistic development. Music was his singular love and passion all his life.
With a solid vocal arsenal from the years of training in classical techniques guided by the best vocal teachers he was destined for the world of opera. His pure countertenor/contralto voice with a warm and full timbre is extremely rare. Dimash is a vocal powerhouse packed in a breathtaking 5 octave range. His belt range from F2 to E5 span the baritone to soprano register. His highest note on the whistle register is G#7 on par with Maria Carey. In the song ‘Kinalama’ Dimash impressively sang with a range from A2 through to G#7!
Although he was told that he had a brighter future in opera, Dimash decided contemporary music could get real interesting with his skills set. He skillfully infused pop, rock, ballads and electronic music with operatic/classical elements effectively charting a new direction in music. The following quote could have been written with Dimash in mind:
“It’s not impossible for an opera singer to branch out. There is a generation learning operatic technique while listening attentively to pop, jazz and world music, and discovering the joys of playing with the voice, of lightening it, of inflecting it, of exposing the quirks. It’s part of a general, very welcome tendency for musicians to look beyond their own backyard.” Orlando Gough : CAN OPERA SINGERS SING POP – AND VICE VERSA? (28 July 2011)
Following the first round ‘Imported Little Brother’(an endearing nickname that stuck thereafter) sang the quirky Russian song ‘Opera 2’ with impish delight, effortlessly adding three modulations while the original singer Vitas did just once. Once again he enthralled listeners, this time with his insane vocal range, crystal clear tone and charisma rather than the emotional wringer that was S.O.S.
“He knows his voice. He knows what he can do and he pushes himself to get there. It’s not even like a cocky vibe from him but you can see it when he performs.”
‘Opera 2’ – Video credit : Dimash Kudaibergen (Cyrillic script)
‘The Show Must Go On’ turned explosive operatic rock. The late Freddy Mecury would have been pleased.
“His English was atrocious but I loved the power of his voice and the dramatic performance.”
“He should have his own like Broadway play just by himself like he doesn’t need anybody else because he sounds like so many different people and he is just one person.”
‘The Show Must Go On’ – Video credit: Dimash Kudaibergen (Cyrillic script)
Winning all Chinese hearts and wowing all others with a sublime and soulful rendition of mandarin song ‘Autumn Song.’ Considering he had to learn it phonetically, his pronunciation was spot on.
Recording the same song for another variety show. Video credit: Kairat
He also sang Celine Dion’s cover of ‘All by Myself’ and French icon Lara Fabian’s ‘Adagio’. The latter is commonly referred to as ‘Sonata in G minor by Albinoni’ as it was originally composed for a string ensemble +/- organ.
It was by far the most dramatic and gripping of all the songs he sang. His vocal ability was on full display as he sang in the same key as Ms Fabian. He literally laid everything on the stage and won in that round. Unforgettable.
“I always prefer the original synthesis performed by string only and not with voice. However, if we exclude Dimash’s accent, he succeeded in expressing feelings as well as excellent voice techniques, extreme longest breaths, placing his voice in so many parts of his body to express every single note, syllable, feeling. What amazes more in his talent, is not only his ability on high notes but his very hard work in adopting techniques that opera singers do not have.”
“What the hell just happened here? This young fella just combined three domains of music, added a 4–5 octave range, presented it with a passion that many cannot do and blew it out of the park. Simply flawless, mesmerising and totally ready to be presented to the world. Wow! I swear he’s has broken all the glass windows in my house!”
Miss Fabian posted on her Facebook page: “ ‘Adagio’ travels across continents. Congratulations to Dimash Kudaibergen performing at the Chinese TV competition ‘I Am a Singer’.”
Video credit : Hunan TV I am a Singer 2017 Official Channel.
For the semi-final he combined 2 contrasting pieces – Italian song ‘Confessa’ and the aria ‘Plavalaguna’ from the movie 5th Element. In the original tune of 5th Element some notes were computer augmented intentionally, supposedly to make it humanly untenable to sing. It was another show stealer.
“He sang 5th Element live and got away with it; damn that’s what I call talent!”
Video credit : I am a Singer 2017 Hunan TV Official Channel.
Although Dimash finished as 1st runner-up, he was the breakout star of the competition and the most admired. Tall and good-looking, he was a striking figure on stage. While the other contestants were very impressive as well, few could match his power, tonal quality, vocal range nor his signature silky smooth passagios that ended in impossibly high notes.
He gave a gutsy display of originality and versatility transcending languages (french, russian, english, mandarin, kazakh and italian), genders (covering songs of 3 female singers) and genres (ballad, pop, rock, operatic) through 13 bruising rounds. The performances were mesmeric, totally in character as his amazing vocals continued to awe. He transformed the songs of the original singers giving them his unique touch.
“I love the fact that he rarely carbon copy the songs, he’s always pushing the boundaries. He interprets the song his own way. He makes it a Dimash song.”
“But no matter the technical analysis of voice execution etc etc..Dimash still is the best performer by far; he can literally raise your pulse. I sweat, my skin prickles and I am out of breath after most of his performances and not because I am starstruck…I think one just recognises greatness on an instinctive level – that “thing” that separates him from others.”
“This kid is not a singer but a born performer in the category of ‘Superstardom’. His stage presence is absurd for a 22 year old, so much confidence, power and drama.”
From the start he had stressed it was more important to him to gain the acceptance of the audience than winning the competition; that through his singing he can reach into the hearts of his listeners. There’s no doubt he has already achieved that. To their credit some of the contestants who recognised Dimash is exceptional even took to mentoring him instead of seeing him purely as a rival although he turned out to be a tenacious one. He had little rest in between each round due to commercial obligations in multiple cities even losing his voice that required emergency treatment midway through the season. Music and humanity were the real winners in this competition.
His teachers recalled that he was intensely self-driven, took keen interest in the works of great Kazakh writers and poets; even wrote poetry and arranged music and was constantly seeking and pushing new boundaries. His spectacular accomplishments today is the result of sheer hard work and effort he had put in since he was five years old. His eloquence and rich thoughts are evident during press interviews and meet-the-fans events. Dimash has a deep conviction about himself and his music.
“I am a firm believer in my inner world and feelings as well as my views on music. I believe in myself just like how my fans believe in me.”
There is also growing interest in little known Kazakhstan and its artistic culture thanks to Dimash’s engaging personality and vocal exploits. There is one statement which he can deliver in perfect english and often repeats : “Welcome to Kazahkstan”. This boy is unabashedly demonstrative about his love for his country, people and culture. Soft diplomacy conducted by just one person can be pretty potent as Kazakhstan has discovered. Dimash was fittingly appointed by the President of Kazakhstan to be the music ambassador to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the One Belt One Road initiative between his country and China and for the World Expo to be held in the capital Astana in June.
The weeks in the spotlight revealed a sensitive, mature and refined person with impeccable manners and social skills. Fans are full of praise for his family particularly his grandparents for the way they have carefully nurtured his God given talent and moulded his character.
It is refreshing to see a hot young singer share the stage with his parents who are famous duets. In a touching gesture Dimash knelt and sang to his paternal grandparents who in Kazakh tradition had brought him up as their child being the eldest grandson.
‘Asyl Anashym’ (Dear Mother) – Video credit : Janet Leong
One outstanding feature of Dimash’s singing is his ability to emote. He is masterful with unwritten ornamentations and embellishments. He uses his incredible sustained and exaggerated vibratos to great effect. On stage he does not hide his vulnerability thus enhancing his emotional appeal. Listeners are just drawn into his world whether they understand the lyrics or not.
“Special voices like his act like a magic key to which the most tightly heart opens.”
“This is the first time I’m hooked to a singer and I don’t even understand what he is singing, lol. But, who cares? It’s haunting..” (a male fan)
“Honestly we don’t even need to understand his lyrics. He can sing a phonebook and we will still be drawn to it….”
He is most emotive with vernacular songs as they allow him to fully focus on the inflection. But still it’s hard to imagine a 22 year old singing ‘Karagym Ay’ (My Dear) – a tender song of a father’s thoughts on life, love and concern for his daughter and her future on the eve of her wedding. Video credit : Janet Leong
He premiered ‘Makhabbat Ber Magan’ (Give Me Love) at the gala concert held after the competition displaying his deepest desires in this soulful rendition. ‘Makhabbat Ber Magan’ – Video credit : Dimash Infostation
Midway through the competition Dimash was invited to sing the theme song (in MANDARIN) for Chinese sci-fi psychological thriller ‘Battle of Memories.” The song was a hit. He won the Top China Global Music award for his very first chinese commercial enterprise and is up for nomination of China’s MTV awards.
‘Eternal Memories’ – Video credit: Dimash Infostation
Dimash displayed his multiple talents playing the piano, drums and the drombra, a traditional long-necked 2 string instrument over the course of the competition. In the 7th episode he displayed his drombra skills in a prelude to singing ‘Daididou’ in regal Kazakh costume and accompaniment which beautifully showcased his roots. Video Credit: N.A.Vidmaker
He composed the melody of this song ‘Umitilmas Kun’ (Unforgettable Day) which he also sang at the competition transcribing several lines into mandarin for better appreciation of the audience.
‘Umitilmas Kun’ – Video credit : Zauresh Smagul
Unlike his professional stage persona, Dimash is full of boyish charm off it – spontaneous, unassuming and fun-loving as well. In many humorous clips he was shown (in spite of the language barrier and often because of it) having a great time with the contestants and fans and running circles round his support team. While many admire him for his remarkable singing, the majority of his fans probably love him even more for who his is. This incredibly talented young man with the most beautiful voice they have ever heard is totally genuine and relatable as fans of all ages and nationalities have discovered.
Diction…diction…diction… Video credit Janet Leong
Dimash often express deep gratitude to his family, teachers, the other show participants and particularly China fans for their encouragement and support and the organisers for inviting him to the show. Indeed it was on this platform that millions discovered him and were deeply moved and inspired by his singing and refreshing personality. He had dreamed of the day when he can sing on the world stage but still the enthusiastic response by listeners in the short few weeks of the airing caught him off guard. It is an affirmation of his exceptional ability to reach through generations, languages and borders into the hearts and affection of listeners everywhere.
The reality of his meteoric rise hasn’t quite sunk in for Dimash. He was just an undergraduate student with plans to further his studies before appearing in China. Today with a million followers on instagram and six million on Sina Weibo micro blog, his is a bona fide superstar and a great role model as well.
His ‘Dears’ (the name he gave his fans) are an amazing group of devoted fans who have set up fan sites around the world. So wide is his appeal that the demographics of his fan base is atypical of young pop stars. Some sites are initiated by matured listeners with many members in their fifties and sixties. There is much goodwill and friendships formed over the internet as fans who understand Kazakh and mandarin are putting in effort to translate his earlier songs, news clips and documentaries on Dimash into multiple languages to share with many who don’t.
Apart from the runner-up title, he also won several music awards, featured in fashion magazines, signed endorsement and music deals, invited to variety shows and charity projects in China and France. There are a series of concerts planned for the rest of the year. A long cherished dream, his first international solo concert themed ‘Basau’ (The Beginning) will be held in Astana on 27th June during Expo 2017. Fortunate fans who are attending the concert will be in for a treat. He had said what the audience saw and heard during Singer 2017 was just 40% of his musical artillery! An album is also in the works.
These are pretty heady stuff and deservingly so for this young man who used to be upset being the lone boy to stand with the girls during his choir days because he could sing the high soprano part better than anyone else.
Detractors who fault his poor pronunciation forget time is on his side. He is learning on the fly. Hollywood has already come knocking.
OST ‘Go Go Power Rangers’ in English – Video credit : jjy728tw
Dimash the consummate artist has enriched the music world with his captivating voice, unique singing style and the music and culture of his homeland. With his remarkable talent and charisma, this ‘Wings of Kazakhstan’ could well become one of the most exciting and inspirational entertainment artists in the years to come.
There is a star in the Andromeda Galaxy newly named ‘Dimash Kudaibergen.’ In an innocent comment he made earlier he said he is not as star, that a star belongs in the sky, that he is just a human being working hard to be the best he can be in his chosen profession just like others in theirs.
Fans think otherwise. A group in China calling themselves DimashSisters likely picked up the idea from his comment and paid for his name to be placed on an actual one through the Name a Star Line Project. A unique birthday (May 24th) gift for a most deserving idol. He surely is the bright star of the music world. May Destiny grant him that ‘love’ that he yearns for and soulfully expressed in ‘Makhabbat Ber Magan.’
The patriotic son and much loved national icon leading Kazakhstan’s younger generation forward :‘Tugan Zher Qazagstanim’ (My Homeland Kazakhstan). Video credit: Zauresh Smagul
The article “Can anyone identify another youngster with a voice more stunning than Kazakh singer Dimash Kudaibergen?” was originally published on The Quora. Read the original article.