Lidia Andreevna Ruslanova was born on October 27, 1900 in the village of Chernovka, Saratov province, in a poor peasant family. The first childhood memory for her was connected precisely with the song: “As a child, having not yet heard a single song, I already knew how strong it excites, how it affects the soul. The first genuine song that I heard was jeremiad. My father was mustered up and while seeing him off my grandmother clung to the cart and implored: “Why did you leave us, how would we live without you?” It so happened that Lidia’s father died in combat in the Russian-Japanese war. Thus, her mother had to earn living by working at the Saratov brick factory, and her grandmother undertook care of little Lidia. In the village where the girl lived with their grandmother, almost everyone sang. Lidia Ruslanova learned there that a wide variety of the songs existed - not only about grief and separation, but about fun, joy and happiness. Having lost her parents early, Lidia was forced to earn her bread by singing. She ended up in the Saratov orphanage, where a singing teacher and director of the church choir noticed her uncommon voice. He accepted Lidia in the choir, where she received her elementary musical education. Later Ruslanova began to work at a furniture factory. The girl was appointed a polisher. It was difficult and exhausting work, the only bright stop for Lidia was singing urban romances together with other women working at the factory. At the age of sixteen, Ruslanova made her official debut - she sang on the stage of the opera house for soldiers' deputies. Later Ruslanova entered the Conservatory class under Professor Medvedev. However, the young singer decided that academic singing was not for her and stopped her studies. After that, the singer did not study anywhere else, but all her life she was engaged in self-education. In 1921, Ruslanova moved to Moscow. As a professional singer, she made her debut in 1923 in Rostov-on-Don. Two years later, Ruslanova became a soloist of the theatrical bureau of the Red Army Central House.
The Great Patriotic War was a distinctive period of Ruslanova's biography. From the very first war days, Ruslanova worked in the front-line concert brigade and very quickly became a favorite singer of the soldiers, inspiring them to heroism. The singer sang romances, rural couplets, the Siberian songs; the songs about the Volga river, and the famous "Valenki" (felt snow boots). Ruslanova's concert activity lasted for more than forty years, and over those years, she gave concert tours all over the country. She travelled abroad as well - she gave her famous concert in Berlin in 1945. It took place at the Brandenburg Gate near the Reichstag building. The appearance of a Russian artist in the traditional costume in front of countless victorious warriors was very symbolic and significant.
Public loved Ruslanova not only for her openness and generosity, but mainly because she never sang sharp and never changed the image of a folk song. She interpreted the songs in her own way, made them smart and pop, but never deprived them of their true national spirit. In Ruslanova's singing, one could feel the extraordinary strength of the integral Russian female character.
In her later years, Lidia Ruslanova very rarely participated in gala concerts. However, the listeners' love for her never ceased, it survived to our time.
Based on: "One Hundred Great Vocalists", Compiled by D. Samin, Moscow, "Veche", 2010.