Elizabeth Artemis Mourat
c 1998

Esma Redzepova, world renowned performer, is coming back to the United States for a summer tour. In 1976, she and her husband Stevo were aptly crowned "Queen and King of Gypsy (Romany) Music" at the First World Festival of Romany Songs and Music. This title is undisputed and has remained so to this day. Esma is a world class artist and cultural icon who carries the torch for her people wherever she goes. She has sung for presidents and peasants and always with the dedication and intensity of a woman who gives from every cell. This dynamo barely brushes five feet but has moved pavilions of thousands and has introduced them to the magic of Romany (Gypsy) music.

Esma has a life story that movies are made of. She blossomed thanks to the firm tutelage of her band leader, mentor and later husband, Stevo Teodosievski. Her father was from Kosovo, Serbia, and her mother was Turkish from the countryside near there. She was raised in a Rom (Gypsy) Muslim and Jewish family. She began her career with one small suitcase containing one dress and one cocek costume. The racism that stung Esma's face with tears as a child, attempted to follow her on this journey, but somehow, the music built a bridge on which the people who only believed the stereotypes about Roma (Gypsies) could cross. She never denied her Rom (Gypsy) heritage, as many did, but rather announced it to the world with pride. Almost forty years later, Esma is weaving her magical spell on audiences all over the world. Esma often talks about her people and her family with dignity and pride.

Esma is well known for her humanitarian efforts. She and Stevo saved Rom (Gypsy) children from the ravages of racism, ethnic cleansing and abject poverty by teaching them to play music. There were 44 musically gifted boys who lived with them over a period of 30 years. In 1995, she sponsored the Association of Roma Women-ESMA, a self-help group for Romany (Gypsy) women in her hometown of Skopje. They also help to promote the education of Roma (Gypsies). The complex where the children live also houses the "Home of Humanity and Museum of Music," a school, health clinic and a gathering place for support groups. Esma continues to raise money, though her concerts, for her humanitarian endeavors.

 Esma describes how;" is the only luxury of the poor....When you sing you have no evil thoughts and when you are dancing you feel less hungry." In concert, she has strength of spirit, sparkling eyes and the voice of a volcano. She is sometimes childlike in her sweetness and then just as suddenly, she is brimming with womanhood. This is an experience not to be missed!


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This page last modified: December 22, 2005