|Occupation:||World Music Singer|
|Birth Day:||August 8, 1943|
|Death Date:||Dec 11, 2016 (age 73)|
|Birth Place:||Skopje, Macedonia|
As per our current Database, Esma Redzepova died on Dec 11, 2016 (age 73).
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
She won first place in a Macedonian radio talent contest when she was fourteen years old.
Redžepova was born on 8 August 1943 in Skopje, at that time annexed by the Kingdom of Bulgaria, although the region was returned to Yugoslavia in 1944. She was the second youngest of six children in a Romani family. Her paternal grandfather was a Catholic Roma and her grandmother an Iraqi Jew, while her mother was a Muslim Roma from Šuto Orizari.
In 1956, Redžepova 's headteacher suggested she sing at a school talent contest for Radio Skopje. She went without informing her parents, who did not want her following the path of her older sister who started singing in cafes at age 17. Among Roma people, such a career was viewed as inappropriate or shameful for an unmarried girl.
After Redžepova left the Academy of Music in Belgrade, SR Serbia, she joined the Ansambl Teodosievski and started touring. In 1961, the Ansambl went to Zagreb, SR Croatia, to record Redžepova's first record. It was released by Jugoton and included A bre babi as well as Chaje Shukarije, a song Redžepova wrote herself. This song in Romani quickly became a huge success in Yugoslavia.
In addition to performing for Indira Gandhi, Redžepova also sang for Josip Broz Tito, Reza Pahlavi and Muammar Gaddafi. Together with her husband's ensemble, she performed for public audiences in several countries, including the United States, the Soviet Union, Mexico, Australia and Canada. In 1962, she was the first Yugoslav artist to perform at the Olympia in Paris.
In addition to numerous video clips, Esma Redžepova appeared in several films, both fictional and documentary. She made her debut as an actress in Krst Rakoc, a Yugoslav film released in 1962 and featuring Bata Živojinović in the main role. She recorded four songs included in the soundtrack. In 1968, she appeared as a singer in Zapej Makedonijo, a film for which she also recorded songs. She made her last appearance in a Yugoslav film in 1971, for Yugovizija, in which she played her own role.
Despite her success, Redžepova was the target of racism and gossip. Roma people in Skopje thought of her as dishonorable for the community and were very critical about her relationship with Teodosievski, a "gadjo". At that time, it was unthinkable for Macedonians and Romani to engage in mixed marriages, and both communities strongly disapproved them. Redžepova was frowned upon by Romani because she had an emancipated lifestyle, performing on stage, sleeping in hotels, working with men. On the other side, institutions, including Radio Skopje and the League of Communists of Macedonia, were very critical about Teodosievski and reproached him for working with Gypsies. To escape the stifling atmosphere, Redžepova and Teodosievski moved to Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia, at the beginning of the 1960s. They married in 1968.
Esma Redžepova married her manager, Stevo Teodosievski, in 1968. Born in 1924, he was 19 years older than her. He died in 1997. They never had children of their own but fostered 47 abandoned or deprived children. They raised 5 of them under their roof and ensured a home and education for the others.
Yugoslavia was part of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Yugoslav artistic scene was subject to many international influences. Redžepova performed several songs in foreign languages, such as Greek, Turkish, Hebrew and Hindi. The Roma people came from India to Europe in the Middle Ages. The link that Tito created with Nehru and India was very important for Yugoslav Gypsies because their culture and history was publicly enhanced. Redžepova and Teodosievski visited India three times, in 1969, 1976 and 1983. During their second trip, they were entitled King and Queen of Romani Music at the first Roma music festival in Chandigarh. In 1983, Redžepova sang in front of Indira Gandhi.
During the 1980s, Redžepova's career had reached its peak. In 1989, she settled in Skopje with her husband. After independence in 1991, the Republic of Macedonia went through difficult times. Stevo Teodosievski died in 1997 at 72. She toured the United States the year after, performing at a series of benefit concerts. She also released a selection of duets with Usnija Jašarova in 1994.
When Esma Redžepova settled back in Skopje with her husband in 1989, she started to work on an ambitious project: a Museum of Music and House of Humanity. The couple imagined it as a place to keep an archive of Roma music, and musical and historical artifacts, with a performance room, a studio and a place where poor people could get medical treatment.
The couple bought a plot close to the Contemporary Art Museum of Macedonia and the fortress. Construction started in 1992. The building served as Redžepova's house and was to become a museum after her death.
The 2000s were very fruitful and marked a slight shift in the singer's career. In Macedonia and former Yugoslavia, she gained a more modern image and redefined herself as a worldbeat artist. For instance, she made several collaborations with young pop singers. In 2002, she recorded a song with the Croatian band Magazin and a duet with the Macedonian singer Todor Proeski. She also recorded a song with the Bosnian band Crno Vino in 2005 and made a collaboration with Kiril Džajkovski in 2010. On the international scene, she contributed towards the establishment of Roma music as a non-mass-market good, pleasing an urban and cultural elite. However, many of her new songs were not widely accepted by Western audiences because they did not match their expectations about Roma music. For instance, some songs featured the synthesizer, an instrument that is not used in traditional Roma music. She was booed at a concert in Spain, but defended herself saying that Roma music has always adapted itself and borrowed external features.
In the 2000s, Redžepova resumed her film career. She appeared in four documentary films during the decade, starting with the German Im Herzen des Lichts - Die Nacht der Primadonnen in 2002. It was followed by When the Road Bends... Tales of a Gypsy Caravan in 2006, a documentary about five Romani music acts on their tour through the United States. She was however very unhappy about this film and the image it gives about her community. She thought the audience would imagine that all Roma people live in squalid conditions, ignoring that there are middle-class Roma, just like herself. The film Rromani Soul, released the year after and directed by Louis Mouchet, features Esma as the guide of the true origin of Roma people located in Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh by Roma linguist Marcel Courthiade. In 2009, she appeared in a second German documentary film, Balkan Soul & Gypsy Blues.
Her best known single, Čaje Šukarije, 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 Sacha Baron Cohen got permission from her production house to take the song, which she was not notified about. She was particularly upset because her song was used to illustrate backwardness, something she always fought. However, Borat contributed towards the expansion of her fame internationally.
Esma Redžepova became politically engaged in the 1990s, when she was close to the Romani leader Amdi Bajram and to Vasil Tupurkovski, founder of the Democratic Alternative. This centrist party was short-lived, and Esma became a member of the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE, which came into power in 2006. In 2009, Esma was elected as a member of the City Council of Skopje, and was reelected in 2013.
In general, she tended to favour large and inclusive causes, rather than only defending her community. This was mainly due to her strong attachment to the Republic of Macedonia. She was in fact a national icon, popular among all ethnic groups and she often showed strong patriotism. She was officially considered as a cultural ambassador and she was granted a diplomatic passport in 2007. She defended the policies on Roma people implemented by successive Macedonian governments and she asserted that it was the best country for Romani people, as they enjoyed much more rights and freedom than anywhere else. In general, she advocated larger cross-cultural understanding and pacifism. She also defended women's rights and their access to power, both on political and economic levels. In 1995, she sponsored a Romani women organisation from Skopje, which subsequently chose to be called "Esma".
Redžepova's ties with the VMRO-DPMNE were criticised several times in Macedonia, for instance in 2010, when she was granted 25,000 euros for her museum by the city council of Skopje. The municipal opposition, led by the SDSM, was hostile to the donation because the museum was not officially registered as such, and the building served at that time as Redžepova's house and hosted a local VMRO-DPMNE office. When she was awarded the title of National artist in 2013, the opposition again denounced the fact that she was also granted a national pension. Finally, the same year, when she rehearsed the Macedonian entry for Eurovision, the song, "Imperija", caused controversy because it appeared to be a promotion of the Skopje 2014 urbanism project, led by the VMRO-DPMNE.
She was selected together with Vlatko Lozanoski to represent Macedonia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. Their song, "Imperija", was unveiled in March 2013, but it caused controversy in the country as its clip featured many monuments of the controversial project Skopje 2014. The song was thus viewed as a nationalist act. Macedonian Radio-Television requested that the singers write a new song. Eventually, "Pred da se razdeni" was released a month later. The song failed to advance from the second semi-final of the competition on 16 May 2013, placing 16th in the field of 17 songs, scoring 28 points.
Currently, Esma Redzepova is 78 years, 2 months and 14 days old. Esma Redzepova will celebrate 79th birthday on a Monday 8th of August 2022.
Find out about Esma Redzepova birthday activities in timeline view here.