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The voice of Yanka Rupkina is an emblem in the folk music tapestry of Bulgaria. For 55 years now her concerts across the world and at home have delivered great experience to audiences. It is not for nothing that celebrity George Harrison gave as a present one of his records to Yanka with the following dedication: “To the greatest singer on the planet”. In turn Kate Bush recorded for her album the Red Shoes the vocal improvisations of the world-acclaimed Bulgarka Trio including Yanka Rupkina, Eva Georgieva and Stoyanka Boneva.
Yanka Rupkina was born in the village of Bogdanovo, Burgas region. She grew up in a family for whom the Strandja Mountain folk songs were part of both work and pastime. Thus, Yanka was introduced to the special techniques of the Strandja singing by her grandmother. In 1960 she earned her first prize - at the folklore festival in Gramatikovo. This was the acknowledgement from specialists for her outstanding talent and the purity of her unique Strandja style of singing.
In 1961 following her success at a contest, Yanka Rupkina joined the Bulgarian National Radio Folk Song Ensemble that was later known as the Mystery of Bulgarian Voices. The same name (Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares) was used by Swiss producer Marcel Cellier for his albums. For one of them he received a Grammy Award back in 1990. The choral songs with soloist Yanka Pupkina contributed largely to that great success. One of them is the celebrated song Kalimanku Denku Mari. Its choral score was written by renowned composer Karsimir Kyurkchiiski, who once said about Yanka: “An exceptional voice, clear likea brook. Such a singer is not born every day.” Academician Nikolay Kaufman added, “Even if she had sung only Kalimanku it could have been enough.”
At the end of the 1970s Yanka Rupkina, together with Eva Georgieva and Stoyanka Boneva teamed up for Bulgarka trio. The leading singer was hugely successful with both the Mystery and Bulgarka trio across the world. Yanka Rupkina has met with a great many celebrities including late George Harrison and also, Kate Bush.
“It was a great honor to me that David Bowie played my song Kalimanku at his wedding - instead of Mendelssohn. For his 25th wedding anniversary he played that song again. I sent him a message to thank him for appreciating my voice. This is a great song that has brought worldwide fame both to me and to composer Krasimir Kyurkchiiski. I have made recordings with the Danish orchestra of Simon Leunbach and have worked with an Australian choir, as well as with the Boston-based choir led by Martha Forsyth. However my most memorable encounter was with Kate Bush, and of course with George Harrison who received us in his castle for a big concert. I have worked very hard to achieve all this - I am happy that I am psychological very strong, and I continue working today. I take part in concerts across Bulgaria with Adjovi Sisters, Slavey Quartet, Daniel Spassov and Milen Ivanov organized by Vladislav Slavov. I give recitals with jazz bands at the National Palace of Culture. I had concerts in Ireland and in Bulgaria with the Underground Trans Global band. I am looking forward to a tour of USA and Canada with a dance ensemble and I am very emotional about it, and impatient.”
English Daniela Konstantinova
Audio features the following songs performed by Yanka Rupkina:
1. Mari Stanku
2. Altan Mara
3. Kalimanku Denku Mari, with the Mystery of Bulgarian Voices