Despite hardships and uncertainties, young Hovhannes was able to attend an Armenian school in Baghdad until he was a teenager. In 1936 he returned to Iran where he started singing first in social gatherings and then in choirs. In Tehran, he studied and performed with maestro Hambarsoom Grigorian but was not satisfied with his prospects in Iran. He wanted to achieve more, hence, when the opportunity was offered to him at age 22, Badalian left for the Armenian SSR with a group of students to study music and train his voice.
In Yerevan he attended the Romanos Melikian Music College and joined the Folk Music Instruments Ensemble of the Armenian Radio. His voice began to echo throughout the diaspora and soon he was among the favorite performers on the Armenian Radio. In 1949 pressures from the Soviet regime forced him to leave the Radio Ensemble and join the Tatoul Altunian Folk Dance and Song Ensemble but five years later he returned to the Radio program where he worked until the end of his life. In 1980 he also began to teach at Yerevan State Musical Conservatory.
In 1957 Badalian received the title of Honored Artist of Armenia and in 1961 he earned the title of the People's Artist of Armenia. Catholicos Aram the First presented him with the Saint Mesrop Mashtots Medal and the title of Singer of All Armenians in 2000. A year later his achievements were recognized with the Movses Khorenatsi Medal from the President of the Republic of Armenia. Hovhannes Badalian passed away on August 19, 2001 in Yerevan after a short illness. Throughout his life Hovannes performed on many world stages from the Middle Eastern countries to Europe, Australia, Canada, US and countless tours within the Soviet Union and Armenia. He displayed an unparalleled enthusiasm whenever and wherever he walked on the stage. He left behind his distinctive school of singing a delightful collection of Armenian folk and patriotic songs and a living legacy in the minds of his contemporaries.