Singer, songwriter and producer Zola Jesus shared a cover of an Armenian folk song, “Krunk” on Bandcamp to raise money for Armenia Fund, a humanitarian organization serving the needs of Armenia and the Artsakh Republic. The track was released on Bandcamp Friday, when service fees are waived, so 100 percent of the proceeds will be going to the Armenia Fund, which is currently working to help people affected by the ongoing Azerbaijan conflict.
A war erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan in September when Azerbaijan launched a full-scale offensive along the line of contact in Artsakh and Armenia’s borders. The attack included armored formations supported by artillery and drones in Artsakh’s Southeast and Northern regions. Azerbaijan is receiving some assistance from the Turkish military, whose former government, The Ottoman Empire, organized a genocide against the Armenians over a century ago.
“I first heard the song ‘Krunk’ (Crane) while listening to a collection of songs sung by Lousine Zakarian, a renowned Armenian soprano. Her recording was so devastatingly beautiful, it spoke to me on many levels,” Jesus said. “The song evoked so much yearning and sadness, yet at the same time it felt so delicate, like her voice could lift off and fly away. It felt like the purest expression of the ineffable Armenian Soul.”
Jesus’ cover of “Krunk” opens with a slow, arpeggiated piano melody followed by her angelic soprano. It is an echoey, ethereal-sounding, simple song featuring mainly a minimalist piano accompaniment to Jesus’ vocals. Near the end a sound of waves becomes louder and louder followed by a ringing sound similar to a heart monitor.
“Once I heard about the crisis happening in Artsakh, my heart really pained for the Armenian people. They have survived genocides, wars, battles for autonomy and independence, and now this — fighting to reclaim a sacred place that represents so much of their ancient heritage and resilience. I wanted to honor and pay my support to the Armenian Soul, and to acknowledge all the lives tragically lost this year in the war with Azerbaijan,” Jesus said.
System of a Down raised more than $600,000 for the people of Artsakh when they released two new tracks on Nov. 5 called “Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz” via Bandcamp. The proceeds were donated to Armenia Fund. The songs were the band’s first release of new music in 15 years. The band members, who are all Armenian-American, said they decided to get back into the studio to raise awareness and funds for the Armenian people in Artsakh.
In May, Jesus covered Black Sabbath’s 1972 classic “Changes.” She has been outspoken recently about Spotify CEO Daniel Ek’s comments claiming that artists not being paid enough is a “narrative fallacy” and that the modern industry landscape requires “continuous engagement with fans.” In response, Jesus said Ek views music as a “commodity” instead of an art.
Earlier this year she joined a group of musicians including Guy Picciotto and Downtown Boys in sending a letter to Congress demanding aid under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act as an independent musicians union called the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers. In March, she launched a live-streaming website called Koir alongside Canadian singer-songwriter Devon Welsh.
Featured image: Pamela Lin