music when performed by true gypsies is enhanced by a special
quality that stems from the performer's easy, rambling way of
life. As with the blues, where one cannot sing the blues if one
has never felt them, one cannot perform gypsy music if one has
not led the life of a gypsy.
Vera 'Kali" Bila and
Kale (Vera Black &
White and The Blacks) come from a small gypsy village (Rokycany)
in Bohemia in the heart of Eastern europe. As with most of the
villagers, all ot the band are related family members. Vera Bila
has been singing since her childhood, as far back as her memory
reaches. From a tender age until she was 25 she sang with her
father who was a violinist and the leader of a cymbalom band.
In the mid eighties, the top of Czech folk bands, Nerez, saw
VERA perform with KALE at a folk festival and were overwhelmed
with their talent and began inviting them to guest at concerts.From
there things developed into eventually landing a recording contract
with the major multinational label BMG.
When it was time to record "ROM-POP",
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.
to our lives, it's tied to our history. It is a living part of
us." Says band member Ondrej Gina about the importance
of music in gypsy culture.