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For Escuela de Suboficiales de Mecánica de la Armada in Argentina, see ESMA. For the Esma operating system, see Esma

Esma Redžepova ( ) is a Romani Macedonianmarker vocalist, songwriter, and humanitarian born in Skopjemarker, SFR Yugoslaviamarker (today Republic of Macedoniamarker). During her life she has performed in more than 8000 concerts in 30 countries, with her late husband Stevo Teodosievski she has fostered forty-seven children, and she has received numerous accolades for her humanitarian work. By her own account she has created more than 500 works of art. These include 108 singles, 20 albums, and 6 movies.

EarlylLife and background

Esma was born on August 8, 1943, in Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia. She is the second youngest of six children. Her mother was a Muslim Roma, while her father was a Catilic Roma. His grandmother and grandfather were an Iraqi Jew and a Catholic Roma respectively. Her family was relatively (but not abjectly) poor growing up, her father working variously as a porter, singer, drummer, circus strongman and shoeshiner. Her parents stressed that all six children finish primary school. At age nine Esma was introduced by one of her brothers to a local Romani music organisation, where she was able to quickly learn complicated rhythms. Her mother encouraged her musical gifts and Esma and her brother soon joined their school's folklore group.

In 1957, age 14, she was personally invited to sing at a school talent contest for Radio Skopje. This concert proved to be a turning point—not only did she place first, beating out 57 other schools and winning 9000 dinars, but national band leader and future husband Stevo Teodosievski also happened to be in attendance. After securing permission from her parents, Esma began touring with his musical ensemble. Legend has it she left home with a single suitcase filled with one dress and one Čoček costume.


In recent years, Esma has remained popular throughout the Balkans. In 2004, she recorded a duet with famous FRMEurovision performer Toše Proeski called "Magija" which was included in Toše's album "Ako Me Pogledneš Vo Oči" which was released in 2003.

Her best known single Čaje Šukarije is the feature song on the 2006 Borat movie soundtrack, which she claims was used without her permission. As of December 16th, 2006 together with Naat Veliov from Kočani Orkestar she is planning an 800,000 euro ( USD 1,000,000) lawsuit against the producers of the film.

The movie Gypsy Caravan (2007) features Esma as one of five Romani music acts on their tour through the USA.

Political membership

Redžepova has been a member of the Democratic Alternative. After dissolution of the party she went over to conservative party VMRO–DPMNE.On this last elections she became a member of the Counsil of the City of Skopje.

Selected discography

See also


Gypsy Queens 1998 Network Medien DGypsy Crpet 2006 Network Medien DQueen of the Gypsies 1997 World Connection NlChaje Shukarije 1999 World Connection NlMon histoire 2007 Accords Croises FBetween the two lifes 2007 Mister Company MKDThu me duj dzene 2008 Mister Company MKD

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