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Oh, Aznavour.

This is a vivid recollection from my first visit to Paris: a shuttlebus took a group of us from the Charles de Gaulle Airport to the Opéra Garnier, where a bunch of photographers immediately encircled me, doing their best to capture a visitor’s first steps in that capital of beauty. When the photographer finished shooting and asked me where I was from, upon hearing the word “Armenie,” he instantly added: “Oh! Aznavour. Aznavour.”

It has been quite a few decades that the name and personality of the legendary chansonnier Charles Aznavour has been viewed as a boost for us Armenians all over the globe. His well-known name inspires pride and presents us with various reasons to hold our heads high.

Not everyone is familiar with the fact that the “azn” stem of the word “Aznavour” means “race, kin, family.” The Armenian word “azniv” (honest) is derived from the same root. Thus even the surname of the prominent singer indicates that he is a “noble Armenian son” who not only sings exquisitely but, after the 1988 earthquake, has provided substantial financial and moral support to his ancestors’ homeland of Armenia.

In May of 2003, I had the privilege of being able to enjoy his presence for a whole hour and have a lively conversation with him at FAR’s Yerevan office. That was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I did not feel any tension whatsoever. I faced a very gentle and kind person, a grand Armenian, who was interested in every detail of Armenian life, the problems of the youth and the elderly alike, and FAR’s mission.

That one hour flew by, but it left me feeling serene and happy. Such are the true grandeurs of life, genuine in their essence. I pleasantly envy the people, who for several hours will be enjoying the presence of the great singer and prominent benefactor at New York’s Cipriani Wall Street venue on May 20.

One final thought. I do not use my car every day to go to work. When I do, however, I constantly listen to Aznavour, and sing along to him. Under the passage of his songs, the world seems to me more kind and eternal.

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