GLENDALE – The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region announced that it will award Armenian-American musician, composer, and political activist Serj Tankian of the rock band System of a Down with the “People’s Champion” Award at the 2018 ANCA-WR Gala on Sunday, October 7 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
“Serj Tankian plays an exemplary role by utilizing his strong and influential voice as a successful musician to bring the Armenian Cause to the attention of the world stage by reaching millions of his fans worldwide. For his years of activism on this front, as well as for his motivational support of the will of the People during the recent Velvet Revolution in Armenia, we believe that Serj Tankian is truly worthy of being named the ‘People’s Champion,’” stated Nora Hovsepian, Chair of the ANCA Western Region.
Upon being notified of this award, Serj Tankian expressed his gratitude, stating “I’m very honored to be this year’s ANCA’s People’s Champion award honoree. I’ve worked with the ANCA for many years on Genocide recognition efforts and consider their work effective and instrumental. We’ve come a long way and I am really proud of our achievements.”
During the Velvet Revolution in Armenia, Serj Tankian expressed his support and travelled to Armenia to join hundreds of thousands of people being led by current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan at the rallies taking place in Yerevan’s central Republic Square. In weeks prior, Tankian, vocal about the revolution, offered his support to Pashinyan and published a video praising the protesters in Armenia and providing his own words of inspiration.
Tankian even watched the May 8 vote for prime minister live in Parliament before celebrating with the crowds in the streets of Yerevan. Since then, he has used the power of media, film, and art in order to highlight the democratic and peaceful victory in Armenia while promoting grassroots activism. Most recently, it was announced in an interview in Forbes magazine that Serj Tankian is working on a film on the revolution called “I Am Not Alone.”
Tankian has always been passionate about human rights, recognition of genocides, and social justice. These traits have helped to shape the lyrical style in which he writes music. He has organized and participated in many protests, from Armenian Genocide recognition to Axis of Justice protests led by him and co-founder Tom Morello. He and his bandmates from System of a Down also starred in a film called “Screamers” that covers the United States position on the Armenian Genocide. In the film, there is an interview shown between Serj Tankian and his grandfather, who was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, in which he explains what he experienced during that traumatic time of his life. Less than a year ago, the activist musician even joined the late travel journalist Anthony Bourdain for his episode of “Parts Unknown” on CNN which featured Armenia and Artsakh, during which the two discussed geopolitical issues in the region, Serj Tankian’s own history with the Homeland, his heritage and more.
In the past, Tankian along with the Grammy Award winning rock band System of a Down organized the “Wake Up the Souls” tour, which began in Los Angeles and after several cities ended up in Yerevan’s Republic Square on April 23, 2015 where over a hundred thousand fans joined them to commemorate the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. The goal of this international tour was to raise awareness for the Armenian Genocide and to also serve as a call for justice. Some of Serj Tankian’s well known works include a special track called “Aurora’s Dream,” which was the theme music for the inaugural Aurora Prize ceremony, a song he completed for “The Promise” soundtrack, and an Armenian song called “Artsakh,” released via rollingstone.com, which was written in support of the Artsakh Republic and in protest of ongoing Azerbaijani aggression.
In 2011, he served as a panelist on the “Lights, Camera, Activate,” panel during the inaugural ANCA-WR Grassroots Conference which covered the ways in which film, music and the arts can be used to promote grassroots activism. That same year, he was also awarded with the Armenian Prime Minister’s Memorial Order medal for his contributions to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the advancement of music. In 2010, Tankian in collaboration with the ANCA and Armenian Youth Federation launched the “Yes, It’s Genocide” campaign, which called on President Obama to honor his pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide and take decisive action to end the genocide in Darfur. In 2002, he co-founded Axis of Justice, a non-profit organization which works to unite musicians and their supporters with grassroots political organizations in order to fight for social justice.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon and raised in Los Angeles, Tankian attended Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School. He currently shares his time between Los Angeles, Auckland, NZ and Armenia with his wife and son.
The 2018 ANCA-WR Gala will begin at 4:30p.m. with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a silent auction. A three-course dinner will follow at 6:00 p.m. accompanied by a powerful program and presentation of awards.
As already announced, British House of Lords Member Baroness Caroline Cox will be receiving the “Advocate for Justice” Award while the “Architects of Denial” film team will be awarded with the “Excellence in the Media” Award.
Stay tuned for more information on ticket sales and the announcement of additional prestigious honorees. For more information, visit our Facebook page. For any additional questions, email [email protected] or call 818-500-1918.