ART BEAT: Ukrainian singing star visits Atlanta for the first time presenting 'Christmas with Ruslana'

For everyone who mourns the end of the holidays, perk up. They aren't over until the beautiful Ukrainian lady sings. Ruslana, Ukrainian singer, recording star and multi-awarded artist will be gracing the stage of the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center on Jan. 14 beginning at 5 p.m. with her show "Christmas with Ruslana."

Born Ruslana Stepanivna Lyzhychko in Lviv, Ukraine, she is an international singing star and the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004, an MTV Europe Music Award nominee, and received honors at the Asia Song Festival in 2009, including Best Artist of the festival. However, this is her first time performing for Atlanta audiences.

One of the special things about this concert is that for the Ukrainian community, Christmas and New Year's stretches into January. This came about when changes were made to the old calendar in use during Roman times culminating in the final changes made by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7 and New Year on Jan. 14 as do most Eastern Orthodox Christians.

The concert will open at 5 p.m. with a mini-concert in which children within the Ukrainian community in Atlanta will sing ethnic carols and recite well-wishing "vinshivky," or poems, for everyone in the audience.

Also warming up the crowd for Ruslana will be a comedy act by Ukrainian comedian Sergiy Prytula, a resident of Comedy Club UA.

Ruslana herself will perform her usual energetic repertoire, but she will also sing Christmas carols and new songs as a part of her special Christmas program. A mix of fun and tradition will mark the program as a beginning of the new year.

Ruslana's music utilizes the sounds of traditional Ukrainian instruments and evokes her homeland, the beautiful Carpathian mountains in western Ukraine. Her people have preserved the authenticity of ancient Ukrainian folk customs and Eastern Orthodox faith through tumultuous periods of history during the Soviet and WWII eras.

Ruslana's art evokes passion, love for humanity and heritage, celebrating and sharing the traditions of her country with the world.

Born in 1973, Ruslana began as a serious student of classical music. She studied from the age of 4 at an experimental music school and sang in different children's bands. She then studied at the Lviv Conservatory where she graduated as a classical pianist and conductor in 1995.

Her professional career began with her winning the Slavyanskiy Bazar song competition in 1996. She was among the nominees for Ukrainian Singer of the Year and her video "Wind Bells" was named Music Video of the Year.

Tickets for this concert are priced at $50 and $70 for adults and $35 for children. They can be purchased at the door or by contacting the promoter Irina Sur at irinasur@yahoo.com.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.