Words By: Anastasia Zurabishvili

Georgians love to sing and dance, it’s a fact – and historically they do it very well. The tradition of folk singing and vocal polyphony goes back to ancient times and is even sought to precede the introduction of Christianity in early 4th Century AD. Almost every region in the country has its unique style of singing distinguished by harmonic richness and complexity. Moreover, Georgian polyphony has been recognised by UNESCO as a human masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage.

Georgians also have a long tradition of gospel singing, as well as urban and professional music. Many noteworthy composers emerged in the country in the 19th century and successfully combined European classical styles with Georgian harmonies. In the 20th Century, Georgian music continued to develop but at a relatively slower pace due to the rule of a totalitarian Empire for almost 70 years. And while the soaring 1960s, the 70s, and 80s in many parts of the world were revolutionary in terms of music (and in other fields as well), the former Soviet Republic of Georgia kept it relatively simple.

Georgian musical ensembles in 20th Century

Music in Georgia at that period was predominantly ethnic and folky, however, Western influences still managed to squeeze through the Iron Curtain, resulting in some unique blends of jazz, rock n’ roll, soul and funk with Georgian traditional motives. We have handpicked 10 of the finest popular songs of the late 20th Century Georgia, most of them released on the only existing and state-owned record label Melodiya.

Listen to the playlist here

This is no ordinary playlist and showcases some of the most acclaimed female singers of the Georgian musical scene – Giuli Chokheli and Inola Gurgulia. Distinguished by otherworldly vocals, these ladies were pretty big back in the days, especially Giuli Chokheli, who managed to become one the most renowned jazz singers of the Soviet Union and toured heavily across it. As for Inola Gurgulia, besides being a super talented singer, she composed and wrote lyrics to many of her songs as well.

Another highlight of the playlist – a sweet song accompanied by an acoustic guitar belongs to a pop-folk duo of spouses – Makvala and Archil Chikhladzes. You’ll also be able to hear from legendary Georgian big bands Orera, Rero and Dielo, as well as some lesser-known masterpieces by Jazz Choral, Orovela, Teatroni, and Alioni – a children’s jazz-rock ensemble. Overall, it’s an introduction to the magical world of Georgian music and a guaranteed positive distraction from the everyday troubles of modern times. Embark on a time-traveling journey and lend your ear to some of the classic tunes and fascinating voices of Georgia.

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