Vadim Kozin, the Gipsy tenor from the Gulag

I propose to start every new week with a song that takes us somewhere in the world.

I just come back from a trip in the Russian Far-East that took me to Magadan where I discovered the fascinating story of Vadim Kozin, a singer of Gipsy origin that was very successful in Soviet Russia until he was deported to Gulag.

Interestingly, I read his Wikipedia page today and found many inconsistencies with what was told by the local guide two weeks ago:

  • There is a story on Wikipedia about Kozin being asked by the KGB why he did not sing about Stalin. This was never mentioned during my visit.
  • Whilst Wikipedia implies he was sent to gulag because of alleged homosexuality, the version I heard in Magadan was that his deportation followed his comments about the Soviet authorities’ unability to cope with the Leningrad siege
  • It remains unclear whether he was released from the labour camp to become a gulag singer, or if him having to perform for the gulag prisoners happened some time after his release; the two sources seem to disagree about that
  • His exile was briefly interrupted by a trip to perform for Winston Churchill: Wikipedia says it was in Yalta whilst our local guide named the Tehran conference, but both stories are consistent enough
  • Finally, Magadan people love their city, so the local legend wants Kozin to have never left Magadan until his death because he liked it enough there, whilst Wikipedia sources makes it clear that he was left no other choice

Such niche story that is it uneasy to find out what actually happened and which is the correct version. Possibly the inconsistencies may have been lost in translation. And possibly by studying Russian language sources I could find out the truth.

But as for me, I find this uncertainty part of the charm of travelling in such remote areas!

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Kozin’s buste in his house museum of Magadan
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Kozin’s piano from the Red October factory

Have a great week!

This post is part of a weekly event called The Monday Travel song. You can participate, too, by doing the following:

  • Create your own post every Monday and title it The Monday travel song: xxx by xxx
  • Include a link to a song (YouTube link or other)
  • It must be a song which is linked to a geography. For example, a Russian song, a Chinese song, a Scottish song… (it can be from your own country every now and then, but remember the purpose is to get others to virtually travel!)
  • Your post doesn’t have to be long, but do tell us a little bit about the song… for example by telling about the lyrics, about the composer, about the style…
  • Include a link to my own Monday travel song in your post tag it “Monday-travel-song” so others can find it too
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