Věra Bílá 's music is deceptively simple and sophisticated at the same time. It's exotic yet homey, Central European yet Latin American. Partially due to the deplorable attitude of many Czechs towards Romanies, it's only ironic Věra Bílá & Kale are better known in France than in their own country.
It wouldn't be surprising for a casual listener to confuse this recording with “The Best of Gal Costa”. Only after examining the album cover he would then realize instead of the willowy Brazilian star, he's really listening to a 5 feet tall, 350 pound (150 cm, 150 kg) Gypsy from Southern Moravia! While Ms. Bílá may sound like a Brazilian pop singer, her band sounds remarkably like Gipsy Kings. And no wonder, this Romany band (as Gypsies prefer to be called) also uses acoustic guitars and layered male vocals, although the sound is often augmented by additional instruments.
Gypsy music when performed by true gypsies has a special quality that stems from the performers' easy, rambling way of life. As with the blues, where you can't sing them if you've never felt them, you can't perform gypsy music if you have not led the life.
When it was time to record Rom - Pop, Věra Bílá and Kale had to choose from their vast catalogue of playable repertoire. With the help of the producers, Zuzana Navarova and Vit Sazavsky from Nerez, they selected sixteen songs which they felt represented their roots as well as songs which represent a development and natural progression of traditional gypsy music. Lyrically the songs describe the trials and tribulations of gypsy life. Most songs incorporate the use of fiddles, violas, accordions and a Hungarian instrument called cymbalom. Unlike the commercialized, heavily spanish influenced songs recorded by acts such as the Gypsy Kings, the contents of Rom - Pop are songs written and recorded for gypsy ears that an outsider can now have the chance to listen to.» (Calabash Music)
«Profilo di cantante blues, Věra Bílá è una star gitana dell'est europeo. Incanta con la sua voce vellutata e intensa, stupisce, come un personaggio di Botero, con un fisico imponente e si lascia guidare dalla musica balcanica tradizionale rom per chitarra, violino, cymbalon e voce: la cymbalova muzica. Definita "la rumba gitana venuta dall'est", questa musica è frutto di continue migrazioni che si incrociano con il "gipsy-manouche", le evocazioni sonore delle tradizioni indo-europee, i richiami asiatico-porteghesi e gli accenti dell'America Latina letti in chiave surreale. Bílá, (che significa "bianca"), reinventa la musica gipsy insieme al suo gruppo Kale macinando chilometri, e nutrendosi delle culture dei popoli incontrati.» (Mentelocale)
Many thanx to my friend Giuliano Contardo for this post (and some other gems to come…)!
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