“Music is not what I do, it’s who I am” (Anon)
To even begin to understand Dimash, I believe you have to go back. Even before he was born, a 90 year-old friend of the family said that she had been given a sign in a dream that said that the baby should be called Mukhamed (Mohamed). His family uncomfortable about using this honourable name decided instead to name him Dinmukhamed Kanatuly Kudaibergen. His name means: Dinmukhamed: ‘son of the prophet’; Kanatuly: ‘with wings’; Kudaibergen: ‘gift from God’. He is called Dimash by everyone.
He was born on the 24th May 1994 into a family who believe in traditional Kazakh culture, so Dimash as the eldest son, was handed over to his grandparents to be raised. He calls them ‘Mama and Papa’. His parents, Kanat Kudaibergenuly Aitbayev and Svetlana (Sveta) Aitbayeva are both renowned singers and are Honoured Artists of Kazakhstan and he has a younger sister and brother, Raushan and Abilmansur (Mansur). They all live together in Aktobe in Western Kazakhstan. His family values are embedded in a strong faith in God, the importance of education and hard work and in Kazakh culture, history, literature and the arts.
Dimash was born a musician and can’t remember not singing or wanting to be a singer! His favourite toys were audio-cassettes and he would take them everywhere with him including to bed. His ‘Mama’ tells of how he would cry if she tried to take them to pack them away even when he was sleeping. He says that he would sometimes put them on a truck and trailer and imagine them as his stage. He also became distressed at the thought of going to kindergarten and asked if he could take his musical instruments with him.
His grandparents both recognised and understood his passion for music and enrolled him in music school at the age of 5 where he studied piano and singing. Dimash is humbled by his Mama’s commitment to taking him there every day even though she suffered from leg pain and tells how she would wait two hours and how she never missed a day.
His ‘Mama’ tells of how his teacher showed the 5 year-old Dimash some notes and asked him to repeat them. Amazingly he was able to. It was quickly recognised that he has absolute pitch.
About the same age, there is a family story of Dimash complaining to his teacher that the piano/synthesizer at home ‘wasn’t right’. It was, indeed, out of tune!
His mother, Sveta, talks about how he would analyse different artist’s songs, their performances and he would mimic their movements. She says that he has always wanted to perform on stage and would often run to join them (his parents) at the end of their performances. She goes on to say that music has always been his passion and he is self-driven and self-motivated to learn.
Alongside his musical education, Dimash is an excellent student and has worked hard, gaining top grades. His native languages are Kazakh and Russian. He loves to read particularly the works of Abai Kunanbaev, a Kazakh poet, composer and philosopher who wrote the ‘Book of Words’. Abai encourages people to embrace education, literacy and good moral character.
‘Like a bird cannot survive without wings, a human being cannot live without dreams’
Kazakh saying quoted by Dimash
By 12 years old, Dimash when asked what his biggest dream was, replied:
‘My dreams have no limits. I wish to get to the heart of the nation and be well educated. And when I grow up, I want my country to be proud of my contribution ’
In the same interview he said that he advises his friends and classmates that:
‘You have to be odd to be number one in the world’
His teachers at his school ‘Gymnasium No 32, Aktobe’ remember that even from an early age Dimash was very supportive towards others and tell of his diligence and his desire to learn. He was very communicative but also a great communicator. They talk of him as kind, gentle, respectful and giving. He was always smiling, very funny and playful.
Klara Kazhygaliyeva, one of his teachers, remembers how he would often take a creative approach to his studies and he particularly loved poetry, singing and drawing. He chose to sing most poems of Abai Kunanbaev.
“We are very proud of Dimash and his musical accomplishments but most importantly of the young man he is. We are proud of his beautiful soul”
Roza Kuanysheva, another of his teachers, remembers how he once looked tired in class so she asked him if he was ill. He answered that he was ok but that he had been up all night engaged with the arrangement of a well-known Kazakh song. He said that it should resound in a new way and performed with a new arrangement. He wanted it to be a gift for everyone in the Kazakh language week the school was holding. Indeed, the song that Dimash prepared for the event had the full assembly hall giving him a standing ovation astonished by his singing.
When Dimash moved to ‘Zhubanov Music College’, he was already an experienced all round musician, skillfully playing instruments together with developing his singing abilities and vocal range.
Marat Aitimov (Honoured Artist of Kazakhstan) Dimash’s Music coach/Mentor says:
“Dimash incredibly performed the works of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Mikhail Glinka and other works of art that have romantic notes in them. He performed them wholeheartedly.”
“Dimash has a delicate soul. He feels many things that may be difficult for some people to perceive. There is no need to explain these things to him. It was given to him by God, by nature, by instinct.”
“It is said that he wasn’t the usual 15 year-old student but it was as if he ‘applied himself to his studies like the theatre reformer Konstantin Stanislavsky, whose innovations changed the acting methods used by future stars’.” (Khabar TV)
Alongside music, Dimash loves sport particularly taekwondo, soccer, basketball and swimming. He loves the works of great Kazakh writers and poets (he often quotes these) and has written poetry himself. He is deep thinking, mature and eloquent and has impeccable manners and social skills; all of which come across when he’s interviewed and by his interactions with those around him.
Dimash’s musical talents were nurtured, encouraged and developed by his family and teachers. He was regularly taken to concerts of all genres, entered for musical competitions, was part of a choir and performed in many artistic events. He has learned many musical instruments such as the dombra, piano and drums and has learnt to arrange music. He is an innovator, has a thirst to learn and constantly pushes known and accepted musical boundaries. He’s had the best vocal coaches and his voice is embedded in classical and operatic singing. He has been trained and mentored by Kazakhstan’s musical elite. He decided to continue his musical studies at university and was expected to study opera so it was a surprise when he wanted to extend his knowledge, understanding and experience to a wide range of genres. He was successful in gaining a place at the ‘Kazakh National University of Arts’ in Astana, specializing in ‘Contemporary Music’.
Aiman Musakhodzhay (Rector of Kazakh National University of Arts) says:
“Early on, we were convincing Dimash that his chosen platform was not sufficient for his talent and that he would be able to shine brightly choosing Opera. We suggested that he could work for the Astana Opera Theatre and that he would have a great career. He explained to them, ‘I deliberately chose this direction as I want to experiment with the range of my voice as it will be more interesting.”
Maira Dauletbakova (Honoured Artist of Kazakhstan) says:
“People say 1% is talent, the other 99% belongs to hard work. One good feature of Dimash is that he’s extremely hard working. You never hear him saying ‘Ok, I’ve done that, I have achieved, that’s enough’. One can see he is always searching.”
Maira Mukhamedkyzy (Honoured Artist of Kazakhstan) and Mentor recalls being on a panel of judges and hearing Dimash sing for the first time:
“I felt at that moment that we now have one of our greatest singers… When he finished singing, I said to him ‘I will sing a duet with you’. I was very excited … it felt like a breath of fresh air… at the right time he will show people what real art, talent and voice are. We will discern what beauty and grace really look like. And everything is included in one person. We can assume it is a gift from above, as an angel sent to us”
The year 2015 became a major turning point for Dimash. He attended the XXIV International Arts Festival ‘Slavianski Bazaar’ in Vitebsk, Belarus. This competition had participants from some twenty-one countries and was televised live in all CIS countries (Commonwealth of Independent States – former Soviet Republics). This fulfilled a dream he’d had from the age of 10 where he’d wanted to represent his country at this event. He performed three songs during the contest, ‘Daididau’ (Kazakh), ‘Opyat metel’ (Russian) and ‘SOS D’un Terrien en Detresse’ (French). Dimash became ill during the competition but was determined to perform and was so good that he achieved near perfect scores and was announced the Grand Prix Winner. This established his reputation both in his own country and throughout the CIS.
“Dimash has a strong character and strong will power. Despite being sick, he gathered all his strength and did everything necessary for victory. I cried when I saw this. I cried with happiness.” Maira Dauletbakova
“I’m studying pop vocal under the guidance of Maira Dauletbakova. She’s a professor, Meritious Artist of Kazakhstan, our popular singer. She was with me until the moment I went on stage, she cared for me like my mother’ Dimash
Also in 2015, Dimash had the honour to represent Kazakhstan at the ‘ABU TV Song’ Festival in Istanbul.
- Kazakhstan ‘Aynalayin’ Competition – Winner (Piano)
- International Festival ‘Sonorous Voices of Baikonur’ – 1st Place
- Kazakhstan Republican Young Performers contest ‘Zhas Kanat’ – Grand Prix Winner
- International TV Contest ‘Oriental Bazaar’, Belarus – 1st Place
- First International Festival ‘Makin Asia’, Kyrgyzstan – Grand Prix Winner
- International Festival of Arts ‘Slavianski Bazaar’ – Grand Prix Winner
Other Achievements -2016:
- Received the ‘Kazakhstan Youth Prize Daryn’ award
- ‘People of the Year’ award for ‘Singer of the Year’
- National Award ‘People’s Favourite’ for ‘Pop Artist’
- Granted ‘Certificate of Honor’ from the President of Kazakhstan for “A worthy contribution to strengthening the unity of the people of Kazakhstan”
- Awarded the state grant by the President of Kazakhstan for “Leadership in the Field of Culture 2016”
- Concert Tour called ‘Unforgettable Day’ to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Kazakhstan Independence in 2016 (25 sold-out concerts in Kazakhstan plus 2 concerts in Russia).
By any standards this is an impressive list of Awards and Achievements to have gained by the age of 22.