My New Favorite Track: Kiril feat. Ras Tweed & Esma Redzepova (Queen of the Gypsies) – Raise up your Hand
Tuesday, 16. February 2010 3:32
Over the years, Balkan flavours have emerged to be a consistent favorite in my mixes. At first it was the freshest sound on the block, but even as the Balkan scene exploded, my enthusiasm grew. Perhaps it’s because these countries are the closest to part of my own heritage, culturally speaking (Mom & grandparents are Czech), but also – Balkan tracks are just damn fun -’specially when fused with some good ol’ fashioned Jamaican-style MCing ala Ras Tweed.
First, you really, really gotta know who Esma is in order to really appreciate this track.
Daughter of a Turkish Muslim Roma (Mom) and Albanian-Serb Catholic Roma (Dad – who had a Jewish Iraqi mother), Esma is the beloved of Roma people everywhere, labeled Queen of the Gypsies during a tour to India in ‘74. Her career began at age 9 in Skopje, Macedonia, when she joined a local Romani band. By the time Esma was 13 years old she had earned enough money to set her father up with a shoe-shining kiosk in the Central Square. At age 14 she was discovered by the man later to become her husband, Stevo Teodosievski, when she won a contest sponsored by Radio Skopje .
Some 500+ recordings and two Nobel Peace prizes later, Esma – born in 1943 – is still rockin’ it, as evident by her performance in the high-energy dance track you’ll see below. She has fostered over 47 street kids and orphans and given them musical training to boot, sponsored countless humanitarian organizations, and began her own foundations: the Home of Humanity and the Museum of Music. She unabashedly admits that she is a ‘money-making machine’. However, she redistributes her wealth for the good of her people, and in fact, all people. As Esma’s own heritage encompasses the trinity of monotheistic religions and their respective cultures, she has no tolerance for the division of humanity along racial, cultural, or national lines.
Her musical history and her generosity both of spirit and material wealth are phenomenal and it is worth reading more about her if you’re whiling away the hours. Seldom does history produce a deservedly-revered performer the likes of this.
Hands up! Go Macedonia! You can expect me to be playing this fantastic treat at a party near you! (Perhaps you’ll come out this Thursday, February 18th).