Ilusha Tsinadze is a singer, guitarist, composer, and arranger born in Tbilisi, Georgia. After studying jazz in college, his passion shifted to the music of his homeland. In 2011, Ilusha released his debut album, Deda Ena (Mother Tongue), which featured his own distinctly personal interpretations of Georgian folk songs along with compositions of his own. The music video for his song “Mokhevis Kalo Tinao” went viral in Georgia and has since won him wide acclaim and national fame in the country. He has performed with his Brooklyn-based band around the world, allowing audiences to experience his emotional renditions of Georgia’s beautiful and little-known musical traditions.
The country of Georgia, situated at the border of Asia and Europe, is home to one of the oldest known polyphonic traditions: a style of three-part harmony, traditionally sung a capella by choirs. As Georgia’s folk music evolved, instruments were added into the mix. Musical performance is largely a part of social activities; for example, songs are regularly sung as toasts at large feasts, or supras. There are more than a dozen regional styles of folk music within Georgia, each with its own musical trademarks and identity.
Ilusha has taken this Georgian tradition and transplanted it to Brooklyn. He was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1983. His family immigrated to the United States when he was eight, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, and Georgia was slipping into civil war. He studied jazz in college but soon circled back to the music of his homeland. A singer, guitarist, composer, and arranger, Ilusha creates music that includes both distinctly personal interpretations of traditional Georgian folk songs and his own original songs. Ilusha’s music pushes the boundaries of what it means for a folk song to be relevant outside of its original context and asks the question: What happens when ancient musical traditions from a little nation on the Black Sea find refuge in New York City?