What if Kim Kardashian could unite her many obvious attributes with a discernible talent? She’d be, what, some kind of superhero?
Egine isn’t trying on any capes yet. For now, she’d just like to finish her first album and make it through her Miami concert debut on Friday night.
“It’s my first big show in the U.S. I’m a little nervous,” she says, with a laugh.
Of Armenian heritage (like Kardashian), the 23-year-old Egine is a university-trained singer who spent most of her life in Moscow before moving to Miami five years ago to start a music career. She was born in Yerevan, Armenia, the landlocked country between Turkey and Azerbaijan, where her father was a jazz bassist and bandleader and her mother was a singer and vocal coach.
“They were pretty famous there,” says Egine (pronounced, “EE-gene”).
But we’re betting her parents’ YouTube hits do not approach the nearly 4 million views generated by the video for Egine’s “Moon of Dreams,” a trendy dance-pop track featuring singer-rapper-producer T-Pain that was released in April.
The Growing Soul Records song is a slickly conceived example of what works in pop music these days: sexy female vocals swirling with yearning vibrato dueling with a streetwise partner who romances her with Auto-Tuned bluster. The stylish video, filmed in New Orleans, makes wise use of another Egine strong suit: her stunning beauty.
Based on the limited ambitions of “Moon of Dreams,” it would be easy to assume that Egine’s talent is only skin deep. But, instead, listen to “If We Let It Go,” a soulful R&B ballad released in 2012, or “Black Panther,” a bluesy rocker she performed on the Armenian Music Awards (taking home the best new artist award). Each is likely to end up on Egine’s new album, and each displays an admirable diversity of skills, interests and influences.
On Friday at the free DWNWTN Miami Concert Series at the Gusman Center, along with “Moon of Dreams,” Egine plans to cover Kelly Clarkson’s girl-power anthem “Mr. Know It All” and Celine Dion’s soaring “I Surrender.”
Egine refuses to fit neatly into any musical category so early in her career.
“I grew up in two cultures: Russian and Armenian. And now, I am in a new culture, and I am trying different things, different styles,” Egine says during a break from recording in a Miami studio. “I love mixing things together to create something new.”
Thanks to her parents, Egine says, she grew up surrounded by “great music, the real music for me.” This included heavy doses of Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and the Police. Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston are favorite acts she discovered on her own.
Egine came to the U.S. after she met a Miami record producer in Moscow who said he’d like to help get her career started. With an assist from her parents, she saved money from jobs performing in nightclubs and as a background session singer to cover the journey.
To that point in her life, South Florida was a just a dream. “Paradise,” she says, with a laugh. “To be able to write songs here is incredible. The ocean, the beach, the sun, I get inspiration here all the time. … I just feel blessed.”
On the other hand, she says her looks, while not exactly a curse, are not helping.
“There’s some kind of double standard, that if you are a cute or pretty singer, you don’t do meaningful music,” Egine says. “Of course, if you are pretty, you might sell more, unfortunately. Especially if you make shake-your-ass music. I am trying to stay focused, but it’s working against me.”
IF YOU GO
Egine performs a free show on the DWNTWN Miami Concert Series at 8 p.m. Friday (doors open at 7 p.m.) in the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts (174 E. Flagler St., Miami). Info: 305-374-2444, DWNTWNConcerts.com; TheEgine.com
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