Bulgaria mourns the death of much-loved folk singer Nadka Karadzhova

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Photo: Архив
Radio Bulgaria’s team is sad to announce that one of the most brilliant Bulgarian singers of folk music, Nadka Karadjova, passed away on Monday at the age of 73. Her death was sudden and has been attributed to an acute heart failure. Only several days before than, on December 31, she sang at a festive New Year’s concert together with her daughter in the town of Dryanovo in Central Bulgaria.

Nadka Karadjova was one of the most prominent Bulgarian female folk sopranos of the Pazardzhik region.
Exquisite mastery and perfection – these are the words that best describe the uncompromising performances of Nadka Karadjova. Some of them have been regarded as peaks in the Bulgarian singing tradition. Her voice is pure and resounding, like the flow of a mountain stream, with her peculiar style being shaped by the melodies and rhythms of the Thracian region in Southern Bulgaria.
Born in 1937 in the village of Tri Voditzi in a family of gifted singers who gave her a rich legacy of songs of all genres – love songs, ritual songs, harvest songs, shepherd’s songs, etc. As prominent Bulgarian writer Borislav Gerontiev said, “Nadka Karadzhova’s singing talent is unique for her peculiar glamour and artistic skill that does not strive for an outward expression of feelings but to find a bridge to the soul of listeners”. Musical critics in Bulgaria and abroad have been unanimous in their admiration of her exquisite voice and artistic craft.

Nadka Karadjova’s encounter with brilliant Bulgarian composer and conductor Filip Coutev proved to be the turning point in her career. He met her at a village fair that he attended to look for new musical talents. She was only 16 when she joined the group conducted by the composer and was to continue singing there over the next 40 years. Along with her choral singing, she also grew to be an unsurpassable solo singer with a repertoire of more than 300 songs and 27 released albums. She performed in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Her songs such as Dragana and the Nightingale, and You Balkan Mountain, quickly became hits and have turned into an integral part of the repertoire of Bulgarian folk ensembles. Her singing career also includes joint performances with the world-famous folklore ensembles The Cosmic Voices of Bulgaria, The Angels, and The Big Voices of Bulgaria. 15 years ago, Nadka Karadjova set up the Slavey Quartet where her daughter also sings. Slavey Quartet (or in Bulgarian meaning the poetic “nightingale”) has already had concerts in Spain, France, Israel, Japan, in many remote nooks of the globe (Guatemala, New Caledonia) and has transcended all kinds of geographical and spiritual bridges to be able to show the world the amazing beauty of Bulgarian folklore. In Japan, her rendition of You Balkan Mountain achieved unprecedented success, and several other songs of hers were included in an album of the Bulgarian Polyphony series.

Another of Nadka Karadjova’s best-loved hits is the song “Zabelyalo mi aguntze” (A Young Lambkin has commenced bleating). This is the first Bulgarian folk song to be included in a foreign music chart. She has gone down in history for quite an achievement - way back in the Cold War period, in 1979, a song of hers made it to BBC-2 chart with her song A Lambkin Has Commenced Bleating. BBC-2 played this song on the air in its folk music program for a period of three months. The response was huge and soon an LP record was released in London entitled “The Bleating Bulgarian Lambkins” and featuring two of Nadka Karadjova’s songs. In 1994, her name was included in the Encyclopedia of World Music, issued in London.

With her numerous songs performed over a singing career of almost 60 years, Nadka Karadjova won a lot of awards in her lifetime. Her collection of distinctions includes all highest awards of the Bulgarian Republic, gold medals of the World Youth Festivals, Bratislava Prize, the prestigious Nestinarka award for exceptional contribution to Bulgarian folk music from the International Folklore Festival in Burgas. 

Wwe offer you two of Nadka Karadjova’s best-loved songs: Zaleyalo mi aguntze (A Young Lambkin has commenced bleating) and Planino, Stara Planino (You, Balkan Mountain).

Translated by: Rossitsa Petcova
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