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Leonidas Economou

(b 1938; d London, England, April 2, 1989). Greek Roma singer. He was born in a caravan between the cities of Kavala and Drama in Greece, orphaned at an early age, and worked hard to make a living for himself and his family. He made his first recordings in 1956 and became widely known in 1958 with the Indian-style song ‘Magala’. In the following years, he cooperated with some of the best laiko creators, had many hits, performed in the best nightclubs, and appeared in numerous films. His bass but tender voice and his highly ornamented vocal styles, his repertory of orientalist songs and socially sensitive texts, and his bold public assertion of his ethnic and social identity, were warmly received by working-class audiences. He became a social hero for the Roma and one of the most popular laiko singers of the late 1950s and the 1960s. From the late 1960s his career declined, due to the general change of commercial policies, the political environment, and popular taste, but he continued to cooperate with important creators and to record hits like ‘...

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Nicholas Tochka

(Alb. Familja Lela)

Family of Romani musicians from the south-eastern Albanian city of Përmet. The group performs the traditional polyphonic repertory of the saze ensemble. The family’s patriarch, Mania Lela (1902–82), was a noted folk singer who moved the family from Përmet to Tirana in 1940 in order to pursue his musical career. Saze ensembles typically perform an Albanian-language repertory at weddings and other important life events throughout southern Albanian towns and large villages. Ensembles include clarinet, violin, accordion, def (frame drum), and vocalists. Mani Lela’s sons performed on these instruments and sang in their family group, gaining fame for their large repertory and musicality. His oldest son, Remzi Lela (1937–95), nicknamed ‘Çobani’ (‘Shepherd’) led the younger generation. He was especially noted as a virtuosic clarinettist. Since the end of socialism, the group has achieved substantial international success in the world music market recording traditional songs from central and southern Albania and touring throughout Europe....

Article

Mikaela Minga

( b Leskovik, Kolonjë, Albania, ? 1885; d Istanbul, Turkey, ? 1965). Albanian singer of Romani origins . Both her father and brother were saze musicians, a typical ensemble in south Albania, consisting usually of a clarinet, violin, laouto, baglama, and frame drum. Her activity is primarily related to her birthplace, Leskovik, considered a core place for saze performance in the first half of the 20th century. She sang and played the violin with the group. The performances with her brother Selim Leskoviku (singer and clarinettist), recorded for the Odeon label’s 78 rpm recordings, are well known. Their two-part singing is based on the multipart singing practices characteristic of the rural areas of south-eastern Albania. Their saze group was family based. They had their own tavern but were also hired to play in different places nearby. Leskoviku has been described as having a very large vocal range, of up to three octaves. It has been said that she used to dress like a man and cut her hair short, attitudes that attributed her a special status among the ...

Article

Trena Jordanoska and Dimitrije Bužarovski

(b Skopje, Aug 8, 1943). Macedonian singer of Roma ethnicity . She is identified by her radiant voice, her vivacious, rhythmical, and virtuoso ornamentation, and her charismatic appearance. In her teens, her talent was noticed by the Macedonian accordionist, arranger, and composer of Macedonian traditional music, Stevo Teodosievski (b Kočani, 16 April 1924; d Skopje, 9 April 1997). He mentored her as leading soloist of the Ensemble Teodosievski, established in 1953 and consisting of accordion, clarinet, two trumpets, and tarabuka. The ensemble was later renamed The Esma Ensemble Teodosievski and recorded 108 singles, 20 LPs, 32 cassette tapes, 6 video tapes, and 12 TV programmes. Redžepova and Teodosievski’s partnership resulted in marriage in 1968.

She was one of the first Yugoslav TV celebrities, and a favourite of Josip Broz Tito, receiving the state honours The October Prize of Yugoslavia, A Silver and A Gold Medal from Josip Broz Tito, and the title Remarkable Entertainer of Yugoslavia. The ensemble was also present at the first World Festival of Roma Music and Culture held in the city of Chandigarh, Punjab in ...