Finding Her Voice

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Finding Her Voice

Article firts published in Forbes Monaco May / June 2022.

Having fled Ukraine, opera singer Victory Ann takes center stage in Monaco.

Victory Ann was born in a small village near Dnipro, some 400 kilometers southeast of Kyiv. “I grew up among nature, forests and real Ukrainian culture. Every year, my entire family would get together for holidays and I will forever remember this carefree time filled with joy, love and sincerity.”

The current situation in Ukraine is far from the warm memories of Ann’s childhood. At exactly 5 a.m. on February 24, her life became divided between Before and After the Russian invasion of her country, which has produced a humanitarian crisis with 8.3 million Ukrainians expected to seek refuge, according to the UN.

“The day before the war, I was in the recording studio calmly writing music for my album,” recalls the opera singer, whose real name is Victoria Buleeva. “The next day we woke up to the horrific explosions in Kyiv. I quickly understood there was a new reality and all the plans that I had outlined for my life were broken.”

The first 24 hours seemed endless. “I will never forget that fear and terrible panic. I will never forget that message from my mother who was 500 kilometers away: ‘Sunny, if you leave Kyiv right now, you will save yourself. You must live. Fight! I love you. Mom.’

“I choked on my tears. My life and the lives of my loved ones were in danger. I could not leave Ukraine without saving my relatives. On that first day, I found ways to evacuate my family and I left by car for western Ukraine on my own and hoped for the best. But the best did not happen, did it?

“We did not sleep for three days, hiding below ground from the explosions and praying that we would live to see another day. When the situation got completely out of hand, and I knew my family was in safe in Europe after a 32-hour evacuation to Poland, I made the decision to leave Ukraine, taking the bare minimum. I had two ways out of the situation: feel sorry for myself and stop because a tragedy happened, or go on and fight for my tomorrow, to feel my will and continue to dream a happy life.”

She chose the latter. Less than a month later, Victory Ann was performing in front of Prince Albert in Monaco and is in talks with booking agents Jermaine Jackson and Julio Iglesias.

From early childhood, Ann’s family understood she was “not a typical child.” She says, “I have always loved to sing and from a very young age the notes were clear, high and precise.” A professional teacher recognized her talent at the age of 7 when she auditioned for a children’s musical at school. On his recommendation, Ann immediately started operatic vocal training. “From that moment, my development and preparation for a real professional musical path began.”

There was a cost to her dreams. “My parents did not have a lot of money and they tried with all their might to help with a decent education. Every day, I took a train and bus 90 minutes each way to music school because we lived so far. But this difficult path strengthened my character and, after such an experience, I feel everything is within my power,” shares Ann, who began playing the piano at age six, despite no one else in the family being musically inclined.

She approached her vocal education responsibly and after graduating from music school at the age of 16 was accepted to study opera vocals at the Kyiv Conservatory—the Pyotr Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine. She “proudly” graduated with honors in 2021.

While studying at the conservatory, she was given the profile of an opera singer, which allows her to work in opera theatres and build her career exclusively in this genre. “Opera is a classic and extraordinarily high art that originated a very long time ago and continues to develop. Unfortunately, this is a very narrow musical genre that does not enjoy large coverage and the popularity of, say, pop and rock.” She admits she loves all music from Andrea Bocelli to Queen, as long the song is “high quality, catchy and useful for consumption.”

In parallel to her studies at the conservatory, Ann knew she needed experience performing on stage. “Even as a young student, I was ambitious. I knocked on doors and asked famous musicians to listen to me. I was never afraid of negative answers and moved forward.”

Her persistence paid off. She was invited to major events by Ukrainian producers, directors and organizers. “They gave me a chance for which I am immensely grateful.”
Last year, she was invited by the National Football Federation of Ukraine to open the match of FC Dynamo Kyiv at the Olympic Stadium. “It was an unforgettable moment in my life.” She has since worked with famous Ukrainian conductors at opera theatres.

Her claim to fame to date is being the first Ukrainian woman to represent her country on the television franchise The Voice in Kazakhstan.

The singer compares her discipline to a professional athlete. “Without training, we lose our conditioning and self-confidence for performaning. Four times a week, I do complex vocal exercises, rehearsals in the studio and work on my vocal development.”

Ann believes fitness is key to maintaining vocal form—“Sports keeps me in shape, gives me strength and helps me feel much better in vocal loads”—and confesses before performances and vocal training she has to watch what she eats and drinks as nuts, seeds, spicy or salty foods, coffee, chocolate and cold beverages can harm the vocal cords.

After her first gala performance in Monaco last November at the Yacht Club, Ann fell in love with the area. Wanting to take her career to the next step, she decided to try and relocate to the Principality in late spring but the war accelerated the move.

“I am eternally grateful to the people who helped me get to Europe, who support me and my family, and who, to this day, help Ukrainians and our country. It has been a difficult journey from Kyiv to Monaco but I believe that my new life here will be filled with the brightest opportunities, wonderful people and self-realization.

“My ultimate goal is to win a Grammy and to show that everything in life is in your own hands. That is why I chose a name that is always a winner—Victory Ann.”

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Nancy Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.