Melancholic, sensual voice of a Gypsy queen

Esma Redzepova, a veteran Skopje-based Gypsy artist whose fame has spread well beyond the Balkans, is one of a kind. The singer, at the Half Note Jazz Club in Athens (17 Trivonianou, Mets, tel 210.921.3310) until Thursday, has opted for humanitarianism over selfish personal pleasure with the benefits gained from a successful career now over four decades long. When not recording or performing in various parts of the world, Esma likes to provide a normal life for underprivileged children. The artist, who has not given birth to children of her own, has raised five orphans in her own home, and has fully provided for almost another 50, with a focus on cultivating artistic talent for brighter futures. Many of the children she has fostered have gone on to become professional musicians, composers, arrangers and band leaders. Esma, in her own words, says she practices a «take-from-people-give-to-people» life philosophy. She first emerged as a 12-year-old contestant on a national radio show in the former Yugoslavia. Now in her 60s, Esma’s career started moving in the 1970s, long before the organized ethnic circuit took music like hers to the more mainstream audiences of the West. Inevitably, in more recent years, Esma, too, has been inducted into the world and ethnic music circuit. Esma’s career started moving when her passionate singing ability was noticed by the late trumpet player Stevo Theodosievski, who joined forces with the singer, both musically and in life. Renowned for her sensual and melancholy-sounding vocal delivery, Esma has been a prolific recording artist and performer in various parts of the world. Career highlights include nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize and an international «Queen of Gypsy Music» award.

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