Monday, September 23, 2013

Vaçe Zela, Ylli i Shqiperisë

"You will always be the echo of every life in Albania."

"The immortal voice of Albania - the most wonderful voice in Albania!"

"The STAR and the ONLY STAR of Albania!"

With internet accolades like that, she's gotta be someone impressive. And she is - Vaçe Zela is one of Albania's greatest treasures. Born in Lushnje (!!!) in 1939, Vaçe Zela came of age during Hoxha's rise to power and became the voice of the nation during the decades communism.

I love the way her Wikipedia page is written (roughly translated):

Wherever she performed, in cities and villages, or even overseas, her the beautiful and melodious voice was welcomed. No wonder she was called "the Nightingale of Albania," because she performed with the same passionate love the songs of all provinces in the country... Vaçe Zela is considered by all generations as the meteorite that fell to Albania during the grim years of dictatorship. Then, when Albania was only darkness, Vaçe Zela's songs gave light. Vaçe Zela had an extraordinary ability to absorb and reproduce any melody, after only once hearing a song on the radio. She had the ability to make a song perfect for any any environment, without changing the inflections, and despite other people's traditions. People loved Vaçe Zele. Posters everywhere advertised her name, and tickets sold in the twinkling of an eye.

I'm assuming, of course, that her entry was written by a partial shqiptar/e, but I love it anyways. It puts into writing the sparkle that an Albanian gets in their eye when they start talking about the Nightingale (especially in my neck of the woods, where her family still lives). Even though she long ago retired to Switzerland, her legacy and footprint on Albanian culture only grows. 

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