Queen of the Gypsies: An interview with Esma Redzepova
Today singer Esma Redzepova is known around the world as the Queen of the Gypsies, but when she was growing up, being Roma in Macedonia was no easy task.
“When I was born, it was very difficult to be Roma” she explains. “I remember at school, on the first day of first grade, a non-Roma girl said, ‘I don’t want to sit next to her, she’s a Gypsy!’”
But since the 1960’s, Esma Redzepova has travelled the globe performing Roma songs and representing the (then) country of Yugoslavia – becoming known as the Queen of the Gypsies.
Today, Roma are recognized as full citizens under the law in Macedonia, and although discrimination still exists, cultural icons like Redzepova continue to promote Romani pride world wide.
“Above all, I am a Romani girl, that sings Romani songs, in the Romani language, all over the world,” she says.