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Esma Redžepova
Есма Реџепова
Redžepova in 2010
Background information
Also known as Esma Redžepova-Teodosievska
Born (1943-08-08)8 August 1943
Skopie, Kingdom of Bulgaria
(now Skopje, North Macedonia)
Died 11 December 2016(2016-12-11) (aged 73)
Skopje, Macedonia
(now North Macedonia)
Genres Romani folk
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, humanitarian
Instruments vocals
Years active 1956–2016
Associated acts
  • Stevo Teodosievski
  • Ansambl Teodosievski
  • Muharem Serbezovski
  • Fanfare Ciocarlia
  • Ferus Mustafov
  • Usnija Redžepova
  • Vlatko Lozanoski

Esma Redžepova-Teodosievska (Macedonian: Есма Реџепова-Теодосиевска 8 August 1943 – 11 December 2016) was a Macedonian Romani vocalist, songwriter and humanitarian. Because of her prolific repertoire, which included hundreds of songs, and because of her contribution to Roma culture and its promotion, she was nicknamed Queen of the Gypsies.

She started to sing while she was a teenager in the 1950s, and her career spans over five decades.

Esma Redžepova is not related to Usnija Redžepova, another prominent Macedonian Romani singer, but the two were close friends and released an album together in 1994, Songs of a Macedonian Gypsy, which gathers their main successes.

Her musical success was closely linked to her marriage with Stevo Teodosievski, who was a composer, arranger and director of a musical ensemble Ansambl Teodosievski. He wrote many of her songs and fully managed her career until his death in 1997. Her musical style was mostly inspired by traditional Romani and Macedonian music. Some other influences are also noticeable, such as pop music. Esma Redžepova started her career at a period when Romani music was very denigrated in Yugoslavia and Romani people considered it shameful for women to sing in public. Redžepova was one of the first singers to sing in Romani language on radio and television.

Redžepova was particularly noted for her powerful and emotional voice. In 2010, she was cited among the 50 Great Voices in the world by NPR. Redžepova was also noted for her extravagant attires and her turbans, as well as the use she made of typical stereotypes about Romani women, such as sensuality and happiness. In 2010, she was awarded the Macedonian Order of Merit; and in 2013, she was named National Artist of the Republic of Macedonia by President of Macedonia Gjorge Ivanov.

With her husband Stevo Teodosievski, she fostered 47 children and received numerous accolades for her humanitarian work. She supported Roma and women rights and was also involved in local politics in her hometown of Skopje.

Redžepova, together with Vlatko Lozanoski, represented Macedonia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 in Malmö, Sweden.

She died on 11 December 2016 after a short illness.

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