Valery Meladze - From a phone technician to a millionaire
24 November, 2014
Valery Meladze - From a phone technician to a millionaire
According to Russian Forbes, Valeri Meladze who was born in Georgia and made his singer career in Moscow, is seventh on the list of 20 richest Russian singers.

Back in the day, when Valeri was making his first steps in Russian show business, producer Yevgeny Friedland told the singer to ditch his Georgian last name and replace it with a more Russian-sounding variation – Meladov. The producer was afraid that the unknown singer’s Georgian last name would become an obstacle
during his advent to the “big Russian scene”.

“I refused to do this, no matter what. This would be disrespecting my ancestors and my family name. Naturally, the attitude towards Georgians has changed in Russia lately, but this is the fault of the government and not the people. People are always very warm to me and I’ve never had problems due to my ethnicity” – recalls Meladze, now a famous singer and a successful businessman.

Meladze brothers’ name became known in Georgia in the late 90’s, when Valery Meladze’s hit “Sera” became wildly popular. Few people know about his second profession, however: in addition to the stage, Valery is also quite successful in the field of business, and has been so for years. He seems to have no problem combining singing with owning several clubs in Moscow, including a very well-known “Rhythm and Blues Café”, which is also co-owned by Andrey Makarevich, also a famous musician. Years ago, Valery was a member of the “Investtorgbank” board of directors.

As a result of successful careers both in singing and business, Valery is seventh on the list of 20 richest Russian singers, according to Forbes. His property is estimated to be worth $7.3 million this year. It is noteworthy that last year this figure was $5 million.

The singer himself rarely talks about his business and the fortune he possesses. A few years ago, when he ended up on the list of Georgian millionaires, with his property estimated at $150 million, he commented that the Georgian press had exaggerated his wealth beyond measure. “I got property that I never owned attributed to me, not to mention that the entirety of my remaining lifespan would not be enough to accumulate such a sum of money” – claimed the singer in one of his interviews.

Valery Meladze was born in Batumi, in 1965. In childhood, he was simultaneously into music and sports, which led to sympathetic parents enrolling him into a musical school where he majored in fortepiano, which also allowed him to take swimming lessons. However, this wasn’t enough for a would-be singer – very soon he became a member of an aviation enthusiasts’ club and started dreaming about going into space. Upon finishing school, Valery started working as a phone technician, but very quickly realized that this wasn’t his cup of tea. Then he got interested in shipbuilding and moved to Ukraine to continue his studies at Nikolaev Shipbuilding Institute. It was in Ukraine, after rejoining his brother in Nikolaev, that the would-be shipbuilder realized that his calling in life was music.

“The only reason I am in business is to ensure that my family has a good future, while music is an expression of my inner self and it has nothing to do with business,” – said Valery.

After moving to Ukraine, Meladze brothers quickly found popularity, thanks to producer Yevgeny Friedland. In 1989, the talented duo was invited to the band “Dialogue”. Valery’s songs quickly became hits in Ukraine and in 1993 he held his first solo concert. Meladze’s first hit was a romance, which led to him receiving the title “Discovery of the Year” in 1994. Very quickly the talented singer ended up in the crosshairs of Alla Pugacheva, a famous Russian prima donna, which meant that the road to highest tiers of Russian show business was open for Meladze brothers. Valery achieved overall recognition with his album “Sera”, which was released in 1995 and quickly became a hit.

After being together for 18 years, Valery officially divorced his wife Irina, with whom he has three children. The Georgian singer’s relationship with his first wife became tense after Albina Janabaeva, a then-lead singer for the band “Via Gra” joined Meladze as a backing singer. In 2004, before becoming lead singer for “Via Gra” and gaining popularity, Albina gave birth to a child. This caused a rumor that Valery might be the child’s father. However, neither of them confirmed this fact, especially considering that Valery was legally married. Russian media frequently claimed that the Georgian singer was hiding his fourth child, and in 2009 Valery admitted that he does indeed have a child with Albina; this summer, he had another child with her, named Luka.

Valery likes to joke that he is a Georgian who spent 11 years in Ukraine, graduated from a Russian school and is the People’s Artist of Russia. He also got caught being quite fluent in Georgian, despite him claiming to avoid speaking his native language out of fear of making mistakes, but only when he’s sober.

By Mari Javakhishvili

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