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Shovkat Alekberova was born to Azeri parents - Feyzulla and Hokuma Alekbarov, and was the third of the family's four children. Her mother was a professional tar player and her father, a labourer, was a folk music lover. Both parents passed similar interests on to their children. As a child, Shovkat took up kamancha lessons. In 1937, she became one of the finalists at a contest held among amateur singers and judged by prominent Azerbaijani composers and musicians, such as Uzeyir Hajibeyov and Bulbul. She performed Qarabagh shikastasi at the Azerbaijan State Opera and Ballet Theatre in Baku (which was her first stage performance) and was chosen by Hajibeyov to join the newly formed Azerbaijan State Choir, where Alakbarova started her professional career as a singer. As a teenager, she was vocally trained by mugham instructor Aghalar Aliverdibeyov and opera singer Huseyngulu Sarabski. At the early stage of her career, she mostly performed folk songs.

During the Second World War while giving concerts to soldiers in hospitals, train stations, military units, Alakbarova first sang patriotic war songs composed by Hajibeyov. She would make up to 50 performances a day, including those in distant places such as Stalingrad and Ukraine. Beginning in 1945, she worked with the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society. By the 1950s, she was recognized as the most popular Azerbaijani singer of both folk and composed songs. Most of Alakbarova's songs were in Azeri, however she also sang in Persian, Arabic, and Turkish. She toured over 20 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. Three years before her death, in 1990, she went to Germany to receive medical treatment and at the same time to perform for the Azeri émigrés

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