Esma Redzepova was well-known throughout Eastern Europe and the Balkans as “the queen of the Gypsies.” She was exuberant as her music. She sang and danced with a special feeling and had a vibrant voice that fascinated everybody.
She was born in a small town near Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, where movie director Emile Kusturica filmed The Time of the Gypsies. Her music used to be available only on cassette tapes.
Esma Redzepova performed since the age of twelve and was discovered by the renowned musician, composer and bandleader Stevo Teodosievski, who became her mentor, musical partner and later her husband.
Their ensemble became one of the most popular groups in the Balkan region. They made hundreds of recordings together, several of which became “gold.” They toured extensively, filling concert halls and stadiums in Europe, Australia, China, Pakistan, Africa and the Middle East.
During their life together, Stevo and Esma adopted 47 orphans and street children into their home, which evolved into a school of folk music. Esma continued her career after Stevo’s death in 1997, continuing to perform with the Ensemble Teodosievski.
Composed of members of Stevo and Esma’s music school, Esma’s group was composed of Simeon Atanasov (accordion), Elvis Huna (bass accordion), Tasko Grujovski (double bass), Zekiroski Sami (clarinet), Zahir Ramadanov (trumpet) and Elama Rasidov (darbuka).
Esma Redzepova’s songs were the musical expression of her love to Macedonia and its Gypsy roots. Her music sounded like typical melodies of the Balkan Mountains with a special protagonist of the violin, clarinet and accordion and with influences from India, Persia and Spain, creating an exciting atmosphere, cheerful and sensual.
Esma was an authentic star in the Balkan countries. For over twenty-five years, she performed in the most important venues of the world. She also acted in several movies and was a great ambassador of the Gypsy Macedonian culture in the world.
Esma Redzepova passed away on December 11, 2016 in Skopje, Macedonia.
Esma Redzepova released numerous recordings on cassette, LP and CD on various labels: Jugoton, Balkanton, IFIS “Glas”, Melos, Sportska knjiga, RTB, Monitor, and Studio B. Below are some of her albums currently available.
* Songs of A Macedonian Gypsy (Monitor MON71496, 1994/World Connection, 1998)
* Chaje Shukarije (Europe: World Connection/ USA: Times Square Records)
* Pomedju dva zivota / Between two lifes (Kaliopi Music)
* Romske pesme (PGP-RTS, 2000)
* Mon histoire, My story (Accords croisés, 2007
* Gypsy Carpet (Network, 2007)
Gypsy Caravan (2007) features Esma as one of five Roma musical acts on their tour through the United States of America.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel is also co-founder of the Transglobal World Music Chart.
Angel has also produced and remastered world music studio albums and compilations for labels such as Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, and Music of the World.