Zariana Ross was born in Bulgaria and at the age of six, in the midst of communism, discovered her love and talent for music. She enrolled in at a music school in her home town of Razgrad and started learning the classical accordion. Her teachers immediately recognised immense talent in a the young musician and began entering her into prestigious competitions and promoting her at performance shows around the country. “This was a wonderful time,” says Zariana. “I bought fame and pride to my home town school and teacher.”
In order to further her musical training, Zariana moved to a music school in Varna, the seaside capital of Bulgaria, when she was 12 years old. This would ensure that she received better training and more opportunity to perform and during her time there, she work hard to continue building her reputation and began receiving recognition as an up and coming musician and performer.
The school helped her to enter some of the most prestigious competitions in the country and she took several titles building a reputation that got her invited to perform at various venues in France. This built her confidence and during her final year she embraced a dream she held since she was two – singing. Her course in production singing was a far cry from the days when she used to sing her parents’ ears off, and as her voice developed, she became an impressive musical talent which helped her in being accepted to the prestigious Music Conservatory in Sofia after she completed her final year in Varna.
At the Conservatory she trained under Stefka Unikian who was one of Bulgaria’s best Jazz Singers at the time. Under his tutelage, her singing abilities strengthened even further and this was when her musical abilities began to be noticed by professionals in the industry.
During her first year at the Conservatory, she was contacted by the lead singer of one of Bulagria’s most famous groups, Trrick. “He explained to me that I had been highly recommended by my vocal coach and dance teacher at the conservatory and that he would like to invite me for an audition,” Zariana recalls. “After the audition I was offered a contract with the group and began performing on stage alongside big names in the industry. At that stage I was also being featured on TV Shows and in the media.” Sadly, this wonderful period in her career was not to last. As is common in the music industry, Zariana discovered that this was not the right place for her ability and style and after experiencing a few personal disappointments with the group, she left.
As a young girl, she felt that she wanted to see the world, and began looking for ways to meld her love of music and desire to travel together. Her instinct that her musical career would be her ticket to travelling proved to be right when she was offered a contract to perform Broadway style shows onboard the ships of Cyprus Louis Cruise Liners.
While working on the ships Zariana met her husband – a South African who was working on the ships as a photographer. They fell in love instantly and after a whirlwind romance, they were married within months and not too long after that decided to settle down in South Africa. Soon after moving to South Africa, Zariana started doing lounge performances with a band called Gravity. They band became quite popular and she performed with them at Monte Casino and Sun City as well as many local pubs and restaurants. Once again, her musical success with a group was not meant to last – but this time it was because Zariana longed to return home.
In 2006, Zariana and her husband decided to embark on the exciting adventure of living in Europe and they moved to Blugaria. During this time, Zariana gave birth to their first child and she was able to immerse herself once again in the musical culture of her homeland. Two years later, the inexplicable call of Africa brought them back home to South Africa. “After we got back here, we realised that there is no better place in the world to be,” says Zariana. After they moved back she had a second child, Troja and now her and her family have settled in Pretoria.
Coming back to South Africa was important to Zariana’s musical goals as she has something very unique and special that she wants to share with local audiences – the sound of an expertly played accordion. This instrument, although it has a place in the heritage and origins of South African culture, seems to have been lost but Zariana is determined to revive it.
She is currently working on a few of her own original compositions on the accordion. Her unique style combines classical music with modern rhythms. “My goal is to create a new musical style for the audience,” Zariana explains. “I want to introduce them to an unforgettable, great experience performed on this long forgotten, often overlooked instrument.” A young girl, who discovered that the strains of musical notes could break through the grey atmosphere of communism like the sun breaking through the clouds, could not have known that she find love and family in South Africa – but lucky for us, her and her music are here to stay.