Esma Redžepova (Macedonian: Есма Реџепова) (born 8 August 1943) is a Macedonian-Romani vocalist, songwriter, and humanitarian. During her career she has performed in more than 9,000 concerts in 30 countries. With her late husband Stevo Teodosievski she has fostered forty-seven children, and has received numerous accolades for her humanitarian work. By her own account, she has created more than 500 works of art. These include 108 singles, 20 albums, and six movies. Redžepova, together with Vlatko Lozanoski, represented Macedonia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 in Malmö, Sweden.
Early life and background
Redžepova was born on 8 August 1943 in Skopje, then annexed by the Kingdom of Bulgaria. She is the second youngest of six children in a Romani family. Her father worked variously as a porter, singer, drummer, circus strongman and shoeshiner. Her parents insisted that all children finish primary school. At age nine Esma was introduced by one of her brothers to a local Romani music organisation, where she was able to quickly learn complicated rhythms. Her mother encouraged her musical gifts and Esma and her brother soon joined their school's folklore group.
In 1957, aged 14, she was invited to sing at a school talent contest for Radio Skopje. This concert proved to be a turning point — not only did she place first, beating 57 other schools and winning 9,000 dinars, but national band frontman and future husband Stevo Teodosievski also happened to be in attendance. After securing permission from her parents, Esma began touring with his musical ensemble. Legend has it she left home with a single suitcase filled with one dress and one Čoček costume.
In recent years, Esma has remained popular throughout the Balkans. In 2002, she recorded a duet with the famous Macedonian singer Todor Proeski called "Magija" which was included in Todor's album "Ako Me Pogledneš Vo Oči" which was released in October the same year.
Her best known single is the feature song on the 2006 Borat movie soundtrack, which she claims was used without her permission. Together with Naat Veliov from Kočani Orkestar she sued the producers of the film for 800,000 euro (USD 1,000,000). Afterwards, Redžepova won a €26,000 compensation, since it turned out that Cohen got permission from her production house to take the song, which she was not notified about.
The movie Gypsy Caravan (2007) features Esma as one of five Romani music acts on their tour through the USA.
The film Rromani Soul (2008), directed by Louis Mouchet, features Esma as the guide of the true origin of Rroma people located in Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh by Roma linguist Marcel Courthiade.
Eurovision Song Contest 2013
On 28 December 2012, Macedonian Radio-Television (MRT) announced that Redžepova along with Vlatko Lozanoski (Lozano) would represent Macedonia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 held in Malmö, Sweden, with the song "Pred da se razdeni". The song failed to qualify from the second semi-final of the competition on 16 May 2013, placing 16th in the field of 17 songs, scoring 28 points.
Redžepova has been a member of the Democratic Alternative. After the dissolution of the party, she went over to the conservative party VMRO–DPMNE. During the most recent elections, she became a member of the City Council of Skopje.
- Songs of a Macedonian Gypsy, with Usnija Jasarova. Monitor Records (c. 1970)
- Salute to Israel (LP edition), Monitor Records
- Songs of the Macedonian Gypsy, re-released 1994, Monitor Records
- Krst Rakoc (1962)
- Zapej Makedonijo (1968)
- Jugovizija (1971)
- Im Herzen des Lichts - Die Nacht der Primadonnen (2002)
- When the Road Bends: Tales of a Gypsy Caravan (2006)
- Rromani Soul (2008)
- Music of the Republic of Macedonia
- Romani music
- Hazırım (Candan Erçetin album)
- at Smithsonian Folkways
|Awards and achievements|
Macedonia in the Eurovision Song Contest
with Vlatko Lozanoski