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.
The Czech Republic’s most famous Romany singer Věra Bílá has died at
the age of 64, the news site Romea.cz reported. The singer reportedly died
in hospital after suffering a heart attack.
Bílá gained international acclaim performing Romany folk songs with the group Kale. They released their first album in 1996 and in later years performed live at venues around Europe and the United States.
Věra and Kale split up in 2005 on account of Bílá’s problems with gambling. Only this week she was planning to make a big comeback with Jan Bendig and Milan Krok, one of the singers from Kale.
Earlier this year the young piano virtuoso Tomáš Kačo performed for the first time at New York’s famous Carnegie Hall. It was the fulfilment of a long-held dream for the 31-year-old, who comes from a large Romany family in a small Czech town and was a youth prodigy before seizing a life-changing chance to study in the US. I caught up with Tomáš Kačo when he was visiting Prague last week from his home in LA. My first question: When was he first exposed to music in a meaningful way?
Terne Chave is currently one of the most successful Romany bands in the Czech Republic. Its seven members started out performing Romany songs at special events in their home town of Hradec Kralové and ended up touring European countries. Today they still draw on their Romany roots but they compose their own music laced with Latino, jazz, punk, reggae, flamenco, and rock. Check-out our Sunday Music show for a taste of what they have to offer.
Some 60 Roma children from socially excluded localities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, along with members of the Czech Philharmonic, are taking part in the ‘Romano Drom’ music and dance workshop in North Bohemia. The aim of the summer school, organised annually by musician and choir mistress Ida Kelarová, is to support children and youth at risk of social exclusion. The two-week school will culminate with a series of performances, starting on Tuesday night in Nový Bor.
Close to 300 Roma musicians took part in a Roma music parade through the centre of Prague on Friday. The event held within the Khamoro week-long festival of Romany culture was attended by over a dozen music ensembles from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Macedonia, France, Spain and Russia. The festival, which included debates, lectures, film-screenings and workshops, ends on Saturday with a gala concert.