Esma Redzepova (1943-2016)

Posted on December 12th, 2016 in News by .


The undisputed ‘Queen of the Gypsies’ has died at the age of 73

Esma Redzepova led an extraordinary life as an icon for the Roma people and her home country of Macedonia. As a teenager, in the summer of 1957, she won a talent contest where Stevo Teodosievski, a noted accordionist and composer, heard her and was so impressed he asked her to join his ensemble. She went on to record hundreds of songs and gave over 8,000 concerts. 

As well as being a prolific musician, Redzepova was an activist, helping Roma people flee ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and campaigning for women. Her humanitarian efforts won her many awards, including two Nobel Peace Prize nominations.

While age slowed her down the last few years, she was determined to continue singing until the end, as she once told Garth Carthwright: “I have had a rich life, and feel very fortunate. it makes me sad when I see suffering in the world. But music is a force for good and I will keep singing as long as I can.”

Read a full obituary in the next issue, March 2017 (#125) on sale January 27.

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