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90 years since the birth of Valkana Stoyanova – the voice of Thrace

On July 13th Bulgaria marked the 90th anniversary since the birth of folk singer Valkana Stoyanova – one of the most renowned singers from the Thracian region. Her beautiful voice and rich repertoire of melodic songs has impressed a number of listeners. Singer Valkana Stoyanova passed away in 2009. “My whole life passed as a song. We used to learn the songs on the field or at gatherings. This was our music academy. I learned most of the songs from my mother. She had a beautiful voice but always sang slow and sad songs,” Valkana Stoyanova told Radio Bulgaria in one of her last interviews.
She was born in the village of Lyulin near the town of Straldzha in Southeastern Bulgaria. She fell in love with the folk songs since she was a child. In 1936 a lucky event changed her life. She was singing in the yard of her house when accidentally Georgi Lolov, the brother of renowned clarinet player Ramadan Lolov heard her song. He was fascinated by the girl’s talent and talked to her father. After a few months the first recordings of Valkana Stoyanova were made in the Arpha Studio in Sofia.

Valkana Stoyanova was just 16-years-old when Bulgarian studios Arpha and Simonavia recorded about 90 of her songs. Later during the 50s when Filip Kutev established his renowned ensemble, she was among the first soloists there. Valkana Stoyanova spent 3 decades on the stages in Europe, the US, and Japan. “It sounds like there were bells ringing in her throat. Probably this is what great poet Hristo Botev meant when he described the voice of the singer in the field during harvest,” said once Bulgarian composer Petko Stainov when he heard Valkana Stoyanova at an audition, as quoted by Bulgarian folklore expert Elena Ognyanova.

At the stage Valkana Stoyanova won the hearts of the people with her flawless performance. She sang a number of folk songs together with shepherd’s flute player Nikola Ganchev. Let’s listen to one of their joint performances.
“Valkana Stoyanova is the greatest Bulgarian singer,” folk singer Verka Siderova once said. “A genius in folk music,” singer Boika Prisadova said about her. Let’s listen to one more song by Valkan Stoyanova.
Valkana Stoyanova sang until she was 70 before starting lecturing. Numerous articles and even a book were written about her. A music festival in her memory has been organised annually in the town of Straldzha since 1995. At the festival young singers perform songs of Valkana Stoyanova’s repertoire. Today’s TOM ends with “Zavilo se vito horo” 

English: A Markov
Photo: archive

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