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Stayka Gyokova-emblem of original Thracian song

Photo: archive

On September 7 renowned Thracian singer Stayka Gyokova celebrates her 90th birth anniversary. She moulds difficult Thracian melodic ornamentations with her deep and beautiful alto voice. That is why she prefers and gets inspired by slow songs. She was enthusiastically applauded by the audience at many concerts in Bulgaria and abroad when she performed slow songs. Stayka Gyokova has become an emblem of the original Thracian song over the years.

She is a descendant of families of musicians from the town of Chirpan. Stayka Gyokova was born in 1930 in the village of Tastepe (present-day Smolnik) near the town of Karnobat (Southeast Bulgaria). She has been singing at various fairs and gatherings since she was a child. In 1951 she was interviewed at the National Radio and impressed the commission with her unique alto voice. This was the beginning of her long music and concert activity. She toured Bulgaria many times as a member of Nasha Pesen (Our Song), Bulgarian Song and Thracian Song ensembles. Stayka Gyokova had a series of concerts in Europe, Asia and Africa.

“The family members on my mother’s side were great singers- the renowned Bulgarian musician recalls in an interview for Radio Bulgaria. - My grandfather Maria had extremely strong voice. I inherited the beauty of my songs and the difficult ornamentations from my father’s family. Each of my songs has strong lyrics which tell us about a certain event and the melody always corresponds with the lyrics. I learnt most songs from my grandmother Stayka and my father. I sang many songs abroad. Once I toured Italy and sang on a town square in front of a big audience. At one time four men came to me. We talked and they gave me a candy. I ate the candy and one of the men asked me to start singing. Then they told me they were opera singers and greeted me with an aria. I still receive many letters and would like to thank my music fans. I owe my success to them.”

Stayka Gyokova recorded more than 150 Thracian sings for the music archives of the Bulgarian National Radio. Folklorists Elena Stoin and Mihail Bukureshtliev have deciphered 200 songs from her music repertoire for the archives of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

In the beginning of the new millennium, the Municipality of Karnobat founded a contest for young talents “With Stayka Gyokova’s Songs” in honor of Bulgaria’s renowned singer. She is a laureate of “Golden Lyre” award of the Union of Bulgarian Musicians and Dancers and “Nestinarka (Fire Dancer)” statuette of the International Folklore Festival in Burgas for contribution to the music tradition of the Thracian folklore region. The songbook “Stayka Gyokova Sings”, which contains songs from her rich music repertoire and moments of her life, was released on occasion of her 90th birthday.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov