Iosif (Joseph) Davydovich Kobzon (Russian: Ио́сиф Давы́дович Кобзо́н; 11 September 1937 – 30 August 2018) was a Jewish Russian Estrada singer,politician and public figure. He was described as “the official voice of the Soviet Union”. Received the Soviet Union Prize in 1984. In 1987 was awarded with the title of Folk Singer of The Soviet Union.
Kobzon was born to Jewish parents in the mining town of Chasiv Yar, in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
As a boy he demonstrated a talent for singing, winning numerous regional singing contests. He reached the national finals on two separate occasions, appearing in concerts dedicated to Joseph Stalin – a significant honour at the time.
Despite his talent for singing, Kobzon went on to technical school to study geology and mining in Dnipropetrovsk, as this was considered a lucrative vocation in the Soviet Union following the Second World War. However, in 1959, following his 1956–1959 contact with professional music instructors in the Soviet Army where he was a member of the army's song and dance ensemble, he decided that music would be his preferred vocation.
Regarding his career and singing style, many see him as the Russian Frank Sinatra. His Most Known songs include “moments”(Мгновения), and “Somewhere Far Away”(Где-то далеко), that in the soundtrack of the famous soviet show “17 Moments of Spring”(1973).
On many occasions, Kobzon performed in disaster areas and military hot-spots such as Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War, and Chechnya during the Chechen War.
In 1986, Kobzon was the first celebrity to visit and perform in the town of Chernobyl to cheer the nuclear reactor rescuers. Two years later, Kobzon was the first celebrity to visit and perform for victims of the 1988 Armenian earthquake.
Kobzhin was active in public and political activities throughout his life. He was deputy of the Russian State Duma, and also chairman and member of the culture committee of the state.(2011-2003), first deputy chairman and member of the culture committee (2018-2012), and a member of the United Russia party (2018-2007). He was also an honorary citizen of 28 cities.
Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Kobzon continued to enjoy widespread popularity in Russia and abroad. Despite officially ending his international singing career in 1997, he continued to perform for audiences around the world and was a regular presence on Russian television. In 2007, Kobzhin was listed in the Russian Book of Records as the artist with the most awards in Russian history.
Joseph Kobzon was hospitalized in late July 2018 due to illness and passed away on August 30, 2018, less than two weeks before his 81st birthday.