My Last Song: A Tribute to Macedonia's Gypsy Queen Esma Redžepova and Nune Brothers
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Info zu My Last Song: A Tribute to Macedonia's Gypsy Queen
My Last Song is a remarkable document: it contains the final recordings of Esma Redžepova, the Macedonian Roma singer who won worldwide fame as “Queen of the Gypsies”. Here she is backed by young Macedonian band The Nune Brothers - the album was recorded at their studio in Skopje, Macedonia, in the months before Esma’s death. Now Esma has been gone a respectful amount of time, Filip and Rade Nunevski decided the time was right to release these historic recordings, recording four more songs to compliment her six - My Last Song is then Esma’s finale and the international recording debut of The Nune Brothers.
Across her lifetime Esma Redžepova (1943 - 2016) became a living legend of Balkan music. Born into a Roma family in Skopje, Macedonia, her skills as a singer and dancer lead to the Macedonian bandleader Stevo Teodosievski approaching Esma’s father as to the possibility of his gifted daughter joining Teodosievski’s folk ensemble as vocalist. Esma was only 13 years old and her father was initially reluctant, but Esma pleaded - she knew she was destined to sing - and so it was. Anti-Roma prejudice meant many ridiculed Teodosievski, but Stevo realised in Esma a remarkable talent. So began a musical career that would continue for sixty years and see Esma celebrated internationally as “Queen of the Gypsies”. The music Esma made with Stevo - who she would marry and work with until his death from cancer in the 1990s - was often stunning and continues to be listened to today: her early-1960s hit Chaje Shukarije (Romany for ‘pretty girl’ - a song Esma composed as a teen) is now a Balkan standard, and played over the opening credits of the first Borat film.
Esma’s efforts as a humanitarian saw her twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Brothers Filip and Rade Nunevski come from a musical family - their father and grandfather were celebrated local musicians - and both boys attended the Musical Academy in Skopje. Esma was introduced to the Nunevskis by her band leader Simeon Atanasov, and invited them to accompany her in what ended up being Esma’s final concerts in 2015 and 2016. This helped bring them to the attention of the Macedonian public and, since then, their band The Nune Brothers has enjoyed great success in Macedonia.
“We were honoured to be on the same stage with Esma Redžepova, and our memories touring the world with her will be a part of us forever.” (Nune Brothers)
Esma Redžepova, vocals
Filip Nunevski, trumpet, vocals
Rade Nunevski, saxophone, clarinet, vocals
Goran Gesovski, bass
Dejvid Demir, guitar
Saso Stojanovski, drums
Viktor Filipovski, percussion
Todor Ushitkov, keyboards
Ana Kostadinovska, backing vocals
Sara Projkovska, backing vocals
Tair Alus, violin
When Esma Redzepova and her bandleader, mentor, and husband, Stevo Teodosievski, were crowned "Queen and King of Gypsy Music" at the first World Festival of Romany Songs and Music in 1976, it marked the pinnacle of a very successful musical career. The product of a Rom (Gypsy) Muslim and Jewish family, Redzepova was the daughter of a Serbian father and Turkish mother. Although she suffered from racism as a child, she continued to embrace her Rom heritage. Determined to make her career in music, she left home with a single suitcase containing one dress and one Cocek costume. With Teodosievski's encouragement and support, she became one of the great singers of Rom music. Together with Teodosievski, Redzepova used music to help Rom children to escape their impoverishment. Beginning in 1970, the couple provided a home for more than 40 musically gifted boys. In a late-'90s interview, she explained, "Music is the only luxury of the poor...when you sing, you have no evil thoughts, and, when you are dancing, you feel less hungry." (Craig Harris, AMG)