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Article

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 ‘...

Article

Speranța Rădulescu

(b Romania, 1930; d Copenhagen, 4 April 2015). Romanian-Danish ethnochoreologist. She worked as a researcher at the Institute of Ethnography and Folklore in Bucharest from 1953 to 1979. She contributed to the foundation and development of scientific research on traditional dance in Romania, where she conducted extensive fieldwork, filming dances and rituals in over 200 villages. Her main interests concerned the contextual study of dance, the analysis of dance structure, the processes of dance improvisation, and dance as an identity marker for the Roma minority group. She also investigated the way traditional symbols were manipulated in Romania for national and political power legitimation.

After 1980 she lived in Denmark, where she conducted research on topics such as continuity and change in the traditional culture of the Vlachs (a Romanian speaking ethnic minority of Serbia) living in Denmark, the Romanian healing ritual căluş, and on the theory and methods of field research in contemporary society. She was the Honorary Chairperson of the ICTM Study Group on Ethnochoreology and the leader of the Sub-Study Group on Fieldwork Theory and Methods, a Board member of Danish National Committee for ICTM, and Doctor Honoris Causa of Roehampton University, London. She had a great number of publications and a fruitful activity as a lecturer on an international level. In her last years, she worked with Margaret Beissinger and Speranța Rădulescu on the volume ...

Article

Irén Kertész Wilkinson

The music of itinerant groups, predominantly found in Europe but also in other areas, such as the Middle East and South Asia. Most often classified as ‘Gypsy’ – once a derogatory term but more recently the source of political pride – these groups also have their own ethnonyms. The main focus of this article is the music of Roma/Gypsies in Europe, with the aim of underlining similar patterns in their musical practices and processes, that reflect their shared values and ethos. For the music of non-European Gypsies, see under the appropriate country article.

‘Gypsies’ comprise many different groups, but these can be classified into two main categories: the Indian-originated Roma (and Sinti) and the indigenous peripatetic Traveller groups of particular countries and areas. The Roma, whose name is derived from the Romani word man, are also known in different places as Romen, Romani, Rom or Romanichals. Roma is the term implemented by Roma politicians to avoid non-Gypsy derogatory terms such as ‘...

Article

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

Mikaela Minga

[Qerime Baki]

(b Korça, Albania, 1898?; d Korça, 1968). Singer and dajre (frame drum) player . Qerimeja performed in the city of Korça from the early 1920s up to the early 1960s. A Roma musician, whose voice ranged between mezzosoprano and alto registers, she was hired to play and sing for female guests for wedding celebrations and in local festivities. She performed women’s songs and love songs, both solo and with saze accompaniment, a typical musical ensemble of her time, usually consisting of clarinet, violin, laouto, baglama, and frame drum. These performances made her popular in the musical life of the city. In the early 1930s her saze renderings of traditional songs from the area were recorded by His Master’s Voice. Qerimeja’s descendants have been musicians as well. The most acclaimed was her grandson, Novruz Nure-Lulushi (1954–90). He played different instruments including accordion, dajre, kaval, and laouto, but was best recognized as a clarinet performer (...

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 ...