Singer Malena in Boston

BOSTON — While Arpine Martoyan is a regular 15-year-old from Armenia, her alter ego, Maléna, is an international singing sensation who won the Junior Eurovision Song Contest (JESC) in 2021 with the song, Qami Qami, the live performance of which, as of this writing, has more than 3 million hits on YouTube.

“It’s surreal. And the music video has more than 11 million views. Back when the song was in its early stages, I felt and heard the potential of it, but to actually reach that many people is a wonderful feeling,” said Maléna in a recent interview.

Maléna is currently in Boston, at the Berklee College of Music, for the Aspire: Five-Week Music Performance Intensive, a prestigious program whose alumni include Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor. She received the school’s Armenian Scholarship.

“I always knew that Berklee was an incredible and unique place for young musicians to develop themselves — with each person bringing their own background and musical experience to one place. Receiving this scholarship is something I am so thankful for,” Maléna noted.

Malena at Junior Eurovision

Maléna is having a grand time at Berklee.

“The summer program has been so fun. I’ve met many great new people, I’ve been going to jam sessions, and just generally sharing thoughts with the other students I’m meeting, and communicating through music. The professors are also amazing, and I’m learning so much,” she said.

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Asked if she will consider applying to attend the college full time, she said, “I’m definitely thinking about it. The idea is exciting to me, and getting a taste of the experience this summer has been one of a lifetime.”

Maléna comes from a musical family, in which her grandfather plays the clarinet, her mother sings and plays the piano, while an uncle plays several instruments and does arrangements.

Maléna said she started singing at age 5 and aside from private voice lessons, studied at the Sayat Nova musical school for seven years. In addition to singing, she plays the cello.

“I’ve been singing since I was born, for as long as I remember,” she said.


In 2019 she signed a contract with label TKN Entertainment and started working with Armenian songwriter and producer Tokionine. In 2020 Maléna got selected to represent Armenia in JESC but due to the war in Nagorno Karabakh, Armenia withdrew. Maléna released the single Why written by Tokionine, which was meant to be for JESC 2020. In 2021 she was featured on the song Chem Haskanum with singer and rapper Kristina Si. After that Maléna got selected for Junior Eurovision again and participated with song Qami Qami, written by Tokionine, Vahram Petrosyan, and herself.

“It was my first time writing lyrics. The English part is fully written by me, I also helped with Armenian lyrics too. I hope blending the language makes the song accessible to wider audiences,” Maléna said.

She noted that she has been studying English for two years.

This is the second JESC victory for Armenia; Vladimir Arzumanyan won in 2010 with the song Mama.

Maléna is thrilled with her victory. “Eurovision had always been my biggest childhood dream. I had entered for national selection several times and failed. When I finally made, it didn’t feel real. It was one of the happiest moments of my life,” she said.

Reaching the competition was one thing, but winning was something else entirely. “When dreaming about Eurovision, for me it was always just about participating and representing myself and country — winning honestly hadn’t crossed my mind. It felt unreal and made me believe in myself even more,” she recalled.

On stage, Maléna sings, struts and dances with the confidence of someone much older, in front of a huge audience, giving every indication that she is at home under the bright lights. “Performing in front of a huge audience is still new for me. I get nervous and it gives me anxiety. But I’m hoping with more time and experience, I will be used to it,” she noted.

Asked if she wanted to send a message to her fans, she said, “Yes! I want them to know I’m working on some new things, and I’m excited to share them soon. Also, I want to say that I love them all very much and I’m thankful for their love that I receive everyday through social media. Thank you!”

As for the future, she said she is still deciding what is next in terms of education, adding, “I can’t think about anything but music, it means everything to me. I love expressing myself through music because it’s easier for me and represents me better than anything else.” She is working on some new material, including making new music videos.

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