Monday, 21 August 2017

Esma Redžepova, the Institution

If it is true that interesting women, as they advance in age, become like cathedrals, then Esma would be Gaudí’s La Sagrada Família.

In her 64 years, her image has become overgrown with so much colour and detail that she looks like a mountain simmering with life.

To start with, Esma’s origins are clouded in mystery. Her chief role in life is that of a Macedonian Roma, the offspring of a Turk and a Serb from Albania. It is unclear how her father became an Albanian Serb since he claims that his grandparents were an Iraqi Jew and a Catholic Roma.

On stage since 1957, Esma – according to her personal site, has 586 works on records, two of which went platinum, eight – golden and eight – silver, as well as eight hours of video material filmed for MTV.

Many of her gypsy folk songs have become popular tunes around the Balkans. They can be heard in establishments, echoing until the early hours of the morning, in all corners of former Yugoslavia – from Skopje’s restaurants and courtyards to Belgrade’s splavivi – the rafts along the Danube and Sava Rivers, Sarajevo’s beer gardens and Croatia’s local pubs.

One of the last hypes surrounding Esma is her threat to sue the producers of the controversial film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The reason was that, according to Redžepova, the soundtrack used one of her crowning tunes - Čaje Šukarije, without her permission.

Check out some of Esma's songs here:
Esma Redzepova with Crno Vino
Esma Redzepova with Titi Robin




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