Serj Tankian (Armenian: ???? ??????? [‘s??? t??n’kj?n]; born August 21, 1967) is a Lebanese-born Armenian American singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, poet, and political activist. He is best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter, keyboardist and occasional live rhythm guitarist of the metal band System of a Down. During his musical career, Tankian has released five albums with System of a Down, one with Arto Tunçboyaciyan (Serart), as well as five solo albums Elect the Dead, Imperfect Harmonies, Harakiri, Orca, and Jazz-Iz-Christ. A live orchestral version of Elect the Dead incorporating the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra named Elect the Dead Symphony was released. In 2002, Tankian and Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello co-founded a non-profit political activist organization, Axis of Justice. Tankian also founded the music label Serjical Strike Records, and is represented by Velvet Hammer Music and Management Group under System of a Down. On August 12, 2011, Tankian was awarded the Armenian Prime Minister’s Medal for his contributions to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the advancement of music.
Tankian was born in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 21, 1967, to Armenian parents. At age five, Serj Tankian moved with his parents to Los Angeles, California. In his youth, he attended bilingual Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School, which was also attended by Tankian’s future System of a Down bandmates Daron Malakian and Shavo Odadjian. Tankian was accepted into California State University, Northridge. This is where Tankian first began to play instruments and write songs.