Musical group Ladaniva bringing a new twist to Armenian, international music

Music can help bring people together, no matter what language.  

The musical group Ladaniva was founded in 2019 by Armenian singer Jacqueline Baghdasaryan and French multi-instrumentalist Louis Thomas. The group’s music is inspired by traditional songs from Armenia, Russia and the Balkans—with influence from travels in Latin America, Africa and Reunion Islands.  

Last month they were here in Los Angeles for a sold-out performance.

I had a chance to meet the group as they were getting ready for rehearsal before one of their shows at Arbat Hall.

Jacqueline Baghdasaryan and Louis Thomas met at a bar one night during a jazz jam session.

"Louie was playing trumpet, and I was singing. And after we started to do the jazz together, and also we did our study in our conservatory together. And after one day, Louis heard that I am singing in Armenia. And he said, ‘let's do something with this,’ because he loved Armenian language and music," Baghdasaryan said.  

No matter where they’re performing or what language they’re singing in--- their energy is contagious.

"There's something melancholic, you know. Melancholy is something beautiful in sadness," Thomas said.  

Baghdasaryan said Thomas encouraged her to write a song in Armenian.  

She wrote their first song "Vay Aman" and immediately following the release of their music video the song was a hit in Armenia and went viral with millions of views.

As far as the name Ladaniva…it’s a Russian car.  

"Jacqueline's father and my father, when we were kids, both had this car."

Most of their songs are in Armenian, but they also have songs in Russian and French.

Jacqueline says her inspiration for songs comes from everyday life—like their most recent song "Shakar" which means "sugar" in Armenian.

Jacqueline’s connection to Armenia has remained strong over the years.  

"I was born in Armenia and I grew up in Belorussia. And after I came to France already eight years. I was always in the Armenian community. I did Armenian dance, singing Armenian songs and for me it was my nostalgia to my roots, and I always wanted to sing in Armenian, to dance it, to participate in our culture," she added.  

Louis was born and raised in France. For him, music is in his DNA; he began playing the trumpet at the age of 7.  

"I was born in a musician family. My mother played the classical piano. And since I was a child, I used to play a lot of different instruments," he stated.  

His love for music and adventure have had a big influence in his work and life.

"I used to travel a lot to learn the traditional music from everywhere."

Their music comes from everywhere... connecting people and different cultures.  

"A lot of different vibes -- we have joyful vibes, but also we have a nostalgic and melancholic vibe. Our music is like a mix of different cultures… a music of travel and also the humanity," she explained.