The Jolly String Quartet


In August I took my much-needed summer vacation. Part of my vacation was spent in Nashville, Tennessee to see my son who currently resides there.  As we always do, we decided to have dinner at Puckett’s Restaurant in Franklin, Tennessee, one of our favorite eateries. During dinner we were being entertained by a musical group known as The Jolly String Quartet. This is a talented and young group of musicians singing and playing a wide variety of instruments, including guitars, fiddles and violins.  As I sat and enjoyed the lively music (much of it southern inspired of course), to my surprise and delight I learned that these four musicians hailed from Russia and had been adopted as children by Jeff and Elaine Jolly of Mount Juliet, Tennessee.  All four had been abandoned and left to languish in a Russian orphanage, yet in front of me they stood vibrantly performing to a crowd who was enthusiastically cheering them on and enjoying their performance.

As I listened, I could not help but think how these four children (now nearly adults), once residing in a bleak Russian orphanage had come such a long way and stood before me with smiling and singing faces, performing in Franklin, Tennessee, of all places!  In addition to the singing and playing of instruments, this quartet took this opportunity to also bring light to their story and to the plight of orphans around the world. What a heart they had for paying it forward!

Viktor, Gorsha, Yara, and Kristina (the quartet) are classically trained musicians and have been the recipients of numerous awards for their music and as I learned from their website, and deservedly so! The Jolly String Quartet I learned has performed for a variety of audiences and venues including the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, Cannery Ballroom, the Country Music Hall of Fame and of course Puckett’s!

While listening to them play and sing I could not help but notice how happy and joyful they all appeared and how talented they were!  I of course thought about how different their lives are today than what their futures could have been had they aged out of the orphanage in Russia. This of course led me to think about all the orphans left behind when Russia closed its doors to international adoptions by U.S. citizens in 2012. 

While the closure of adoptions in Russia is so very sad, there are still orphaned children in need of forever families in every country globally. Children are in need of families in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, and Haiti and the list goes on. How much talent do we lose when we allow these children to remain in orphanages without families?  No one will ever know. What we do know is there is a child waiting for a forever family and waiting to share their talent with the world, just as The Jolly String Quartet is sharing theirs.

Click here to see them perform

Interested in international adoption? Please contact or visit our website.

Sonja Brown works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptions’ programs in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Samoa. Sonja is also proud to work directly with our Individualized Country Program families who are adopting from countries where no adoption service providers currently operate.