This is a great story, about a group of Russian babushkas who hit it big with a novelty singing act, and use the money to rebuild the village church, which was razed by Stalin:
It all began with a miracle, said Olga N. Tuktareva, the leader of the singing group, who is 43 and in fact is not a grandmother yet.
Ms. Tuktareva recalled strolling about the village with a friend in 2008 and lamenting a sad episode in local history: the destruction of the Church of the Trinity, taken down like countless other churches in Stalin’s Russia.
Built in 1901, it had three altars, devoted to the Trinity, Archangel Michael and the Prophet Elijah. Party commissars closed it in 1937; 12 years later, a crew drilling for oil in the upper Volga River basin knocked down the church and carted off the bricks to build barracks for workers.
During that walk, Ms. Tuktareva recalled, her cellphone rang. It was a music producer in Moscow who had heard of the singing babushki — they performed locally — and had a proposition: if the troupe sang the Queen song “We Are the Champions” in their native language, Udmurt, to an audience of oil executives in Moscow, the producer would make it worth her time.
“I thought, ‘This is strange,’ ” Ms. Tuktareva said. “I just said it is impossible to rebuild the church, and then my phone rang. This is not an accident.” After that, the group won minor fame performing songs by the Beatles, Deep Purple and the Eagles in Udmurt as a novelty act. The members — all deeply pious women who had to hide their beliefs in the Soviet era — set up a fund to rebuild the church.
The babushki competed to represent Russia at Eurovision in 2010 but, not yet fully transformed into a rock act, were not selected. They entered with a song called “How to Make Birch Bark Into a Hat.”
After that song fell flat, they realized that they needed more histrionics and more English. They performed “Party for Everybody,” a song with lyrics by Ms. Tuktareva in Udmurt and by Mary Susan Applegate, a lyricist for Modern Talking and other pop acts, in English.
While the women were in Baku, Azerbaijan, for this year’s Eurovision contest, the laying of a church foundation was begun with the money already in their growing fund. When they returned — escorted from a regional airport by a police motorcade — the jumble of steel and concrete awaited them.
“We prayed and we cried,” Ms. Tuktareva said.
Read the whole story, from The New York Times, here.
And here is a video of their performance: