Věra Bílá died of a heart attack this week, days before her scheduled comeback tour. The Roma singer, who was widely regarded as a great talent and once sang to sold out audiences across the world, spent the last years of her life heavily in debt and living in a lodging house. Since her death, many have said that her songs will forever live on as exceptional examples of the world music genre.
Today’s Sunday Music Show is dedicated to winners of the Czech music industry's annual Anděl awards. Among them are The Atavists, named Discovery of the Year and winners of the Rock Album of the Year, for Lo-Fi Life, their second LP. Also in the programme are rock giants Lucie, whose disc EvoLucie was awarded Album of the Year; funk stalwarts Monkey Business (Band of the Year); Ty Nikdy (Best Rap Album) Barbora Poláková (female Singer of the Year) and Miro Žbirka (male Singer of the Year).
Karel Kryl, perhaps the greatest Czech protest singer ever, was born on this day 75 years ago. Kryl’s spare and highly poetic songs such as Bratříčku zavírej vrátka (Close the Gate, Little Brother), composed in the wake of the Soviet-led invasion of 1968, reflected the frustrations of many Czechoslovaks and remain popular to this day. This year is also the 25th anniversary of the folk artist’s premature death at the age of 49.
The band Lake Malawi will represent the Czech Republic at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Tel Aviv in May. The indie-pop band, formed in 2013 by the singer and guitarist Albert Černý, garnered the most votes in the Czech national round, leaving behind seven other finalists. I spoke to Lake Malawi’s frontman about their success and I started by asking why they decided to take part in the Eurovision contest:
The world famous mezzo-soprano Dagmar Pecková, in collaboration with Czech composer and conductor Jaroslav Krček and his ensemble Musica Bohemica, has released her debut Christmas album. Called Nativitas, Christmas Songs of Old Europe, it is made up of Czech and Moravian carols, Christmas songs from seventeenth-century Bohemian Baroque hymnbooks as well as old carols of other European nations.
Martin Chodúr, a Czech singer and the winner of the 2009 Czech Pop Idol, has released his first Christmas album called Hallelujah. It contains cover-versions of some of the best-known Christmas songs, such as Oh, Holy Night or I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, as well as a couple of traditional Czech carols. Martin Chodúr is accompanied by the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra headed by Marek Prášil.
Karel Gott is unquestionably one of the most successful figures in the history of Czech show business. Over the course of his career, spanning over six decades, he collected more than 40 Golden Nightingales Awards as the country’s most popular singer and recorded over 100 albums. At the age of 79, Karel Gott is still going strong. He has successfully overcome cancer to return on stage and release a new album.