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IDA KELAROVÁ TOURS WITH HER ROMANO RAT BAND AND GUESTS

Explosion of rhythm, joy, and pain

FAMOUS for spellbinding audiences with her deep and powerful voice, Ida Kelarová has been called the Queen of Gypsy music. The Czech-born singer and her band, Romano Rat, blend traditional Gypsy tunes from Slovakia and Moravia with jazzy rhythms and harmonies, a combination that has proved to be much appreciated worldwide.
Currently on a Czech-Slovak tour, Kelarová and her band will bring their feasts of song and music to Slovak audiences in Košice on October 21 and Kežmarok on October 22.


THE QUEEN of Gypsy music sings about the beauty of grief.
photo: File photo

FAMOUS for spellbinding audiences with her deep and powerful voice, Ida Kelarová has been called the Queen of Gypsy music. The Czech-born singer and her band, Romano Rat, blend traditional Gypsy tunes from Slovakia and Moravia with jazzy rhythms and harmonies, a combination that has proved to be much appreciated worldwide.

Currently on a Czech-Slovak tour, Kelarová and her band will bring their feasts of song and music to Slovak audiences in Košice on October 21 and Kežmarok on October 22.

For five years, Kelarová has toured with Romano Rat, which is composed of talented Roma musicians from Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Their representative blend of Roma songs with jazz and Latin rhythms is captured on the band's most recent CDs: Dadoro and Staré Slzy (Old Tears), the latter mainly featuring ballads.

The title of the second album, Old Tears, refers to Kelarová's relationship to her mother and to her Roma heritage, something which she found and recovered as she grew older.

"There is a lot of grief inside of me," Kelarová said in an interview for the Ro-ma newspaper Romano Nevo Lil.

"It comes mainly from my mother, who throughout her life refused to acknowledge my father's Roma identity. Finally, he too accepted this; so during our entire childhood, our Roma ancestry was never spoken about. When I finally went back to my roots and acknowledged them, my mother wasn't very happy. So, it's a painful relationship."

However, according to Kelarová, pain and grief are not negative energies, but can work as a cathartic way of cleansing the soul.

"Grief is beautiful also," she said. "When I sing a sad song, I feel better, like when I cry out. But today, people don't cry out. They keep the pain and the fear inside themselves, preten-ding that they are happy. In fact, they are only surviving."

Finding strength in music, Kelarová is also well known for helping others connect with their inner emotions. This is what many people experience at Kelarová's increasingly popular courses and workshops in Europe. Especially well known is the annual festival Gypsy Celebration at Svojanov Castle in Moravia, where participants gather from all over Europe to enjoy and learn to sing Roma songs. At the Workshops of the Human Voice, Kelarová comes across as a spiritual teacher, leading the students to deep self-knowledge through their own voices.

"Look, this is our strength - in music," she explained. "Everyone sings in the Roma language, both non-Roma and Roma, and they all understand each other".

Kelarová and her Romano Rat band will perform songs from their albums, traditional Gypsy songs, as well as new compositions.

The concert in Košice starts at 19:00 on October 21 at Štátne divadlo (State Theatre) at Hlavná 58; the concert in Kežmarok starts at 17:00 on October 22 at Mestské stredisko kultúry (Town Cultural Centre) at Starý trh 47. For more information on Ida Kelarová's concerts and workshops, visit www.kelarova.com.

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