Macedonia: The Queen of Romani Music, Esma Redžepova, has passed away
Esma Redžepova, who was acknowledged worldwide as the Queen of Romani Music, passed away on the morning of 11 December in Skopje, Macedonia at the age of 73. The hospital where the singer was being treated announced her death.
Macedonian media reported that the artist succumbed after battling an illness. She was given the title of "Queen of Romani Music" in 1976 in India at an international Romani festival to which 24 countries contributed.
Esma was also nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize for her charity intiatives. "I love to aid people. My husband and I never had our own children, but we have made up for that disability - so far we have adopted 47 children. We donate one-fifth of our earnings from each concert to charity. We financially support impoverished young people so they can study," she said in one interview.
During the civil war in Kosovo, Esma's home was open to all who needed food and other basic items during that time of adversity. She was married to the Macedonian artist Stevo Teodosievski (1924-1997) and was also famous as a determined fighter for the emancipation of Romani women.
Reuters reported that her funeral took place on Monday, 12 December in Skopje. Leading politicians in Macedonia such as President Ďorge Ivanov, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Culture Mninister Elizbeta Kanceska-Milevska and the Mayor of Skopje, Koce Trajanovski, all paid their respects to her.
"The Romani people and the whole world have lost so much that it is not possible to comprehend at this moment. A part of the culture of our nation is lost forever," said Romani activist Dragoljub Ackovic of Serbia at the funeral.
"She was the Queen and everybody loved her," said Croatian musician Vlado Kalember. Mayor of Skopje Trajanovski said the following at a special session of the Skopje City Council held in her honor: "Esma was our Romani Queen, the Queen of Macedonian Music, and a Queen to all of humanity. She was one of the greatest representatives of Macedonia to the rest of the world. With great sorrow I must say that we have lost a great woman, I want to express my condolences to her family."
The burial itself was not attended by many people because the family did not manage to inform the public about it. "Her death came suddenly and according to Muslim custom she had to be buried within 24 hours," Reuters reported, along with information that hundreds of people have signed a book of condolences that has been made available at the Skopje City Hall.
Esma was born to an impoverished Romani family during the Second World War. She began to sing at the age of 10 and was one of the first female Romani artists to ever appear on radio or television.
In 2010, National Public Radio in the United States of America included her together with performers such as Placido Domingo, Ella Fitzgerald, Janis Joplin, and Freddie Mercury among the world's 50 greatest singing voices. In 2013 she represented Macedonia in the Eurovision Song competition.
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