By Shereen Shabnam

Natalia Shmarenkova a.k.a. Kamaliya Zahoor, a Ukranian singer, model, actress, TV personality and philanthropist was born in Zabaikalye, Russia. She started her musical journey at a young age and has written numerous songs and won accolades for her contribution to the entertainment industry.

Kamaliya’s father, Viktor Shmarenkov was a Military pilot and her mum, Inna Shmarenkova was an artist producer. She has been married for 15 years to Mohammad Zahoor and has two children, Arabella and Mirabella – Kamaliya spends all her free time with family.

While growing up, Kamaliya attended school in Chernigov, Budapest and in Lviv, which was her favorite because she had a lot of friends there. She has special memories of school, as it was where she learnt music and to dance and perform so she had no time to do home work. While other students were playing during the breaks, she was sitting on the stairs and doing homework for the next day.

Kamaliya also attendedKiev Municipal Academy of Variety and Circus Arts and Kiev National University of Culture and Arts.Once again, she was singing in the clubs during the night and studying during the day so there was not much time to enjoy as her focus was to get qualified as Director of the mass shows and vocals.

According to Kamaliya, the most challenging part about being an artist is remaining a grounded human being. When asked on who influences her musically, she mentions that the music of the group “space” is what she loves.

When asked to explain her music in a few words, Kamaliya tells us that she has all the 4 vocal ranges from contra alto, (alto, mezzo soprano) to soprano so she can sing basically any song from pop, jazz, blues, opera etc.

The five artists or songs on Kamaliya’s ipod right now on her recently played list is Andrea Bocelli, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Dua Lipa.

Kamaliya writes her own music and she draws inspiration from the everyday life of the Ukrainians. But when she started singing English songs, she worked with a team of producers who were writing songs especially for her.

She gets her inspiration from other artists too. When opera diva Manseratt Caballe came to Kyiv this year on her 85thbirthday (she died just recently), Kamaliya sang a song for her and asked her that as millions are inspired by her, where does she get her inspiration. She replied, from singers like you. Kamaliya was flattered.

Kamaliya’s songs are very popular in the west. They are always on radio, TV and in clubs. Luckily for her, they are also in the hearts, minds and on the lips of her fans.

On starting songwriting, Kamaliya mentions that not everyone can write a song. But if one does start writing a song, she says it will be good to show them to colleagues who can advise whether songwriting is for them or not.

The most enjoyable song for Kamaliya is ‘I will always love you’ by Whitney Houston. When Kamaliyawas young,she listened to the music of Pugachova, a Russian pop diva and a bit later, she started listening to the group “Modern Talking” and both inspired her a lot.

The role Kamaliya enjoys the most from being a singer, actress, television personality, model and philanthropist is being a singer as she enjoys singing the most.

When asked about her favourite personalities, Kamaliya admires her husband as a great businessperson but among writers, she likes Pasternak and Bulgakov.

Kamaliya’s main influences include her family, especially her daughters who inspired her to create good songs.Kamaliya reckons that the key element in creating a good piece is harmony in your life. Kamaliya makes her work unique as a niche artist who mixes house music with opera singing and this was not done successfully before her.

For Kamaliya, a song has to click, it must have a hook and it has to follow her intuition. Her favourite thing to do when not writing, producing, playing, acting, or modelling istaking care of her twin daughters

Kamaliya chose acting and modeling for her career because her mother was her producer and wanted Kamaliya to become an artist. She supported her to achieve her goals and if Kamaliya was not in the entertainment industry, she had finished medical college, so she would have been a nurse.

Kamaliya’s comfort space is staying at home most of the time and even when she has to travel, she prefers to come back home almost immediately after the performance. Her hobbies include shopping, sight seeing, travelling. She is a sportswoman, a professional horse rider in dressage and she loves swimming, dancing and going to the gym.

She is most influenced by the Queen of England but in her home country, by ordinary Ukrainian people and in her family by her mother and husband who are her role models. Kamaliya admires her husband and believes he is an adventurous person as he picked Ukraine for his investments.

We wish Kamaliya and her husband a wonderful life in Ukraine and success in both their careers.

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