"I’m back to share my experiences with people."

Why waste a lot of words on this woman? Vera Bila is simply a living legend. After a long creative break, the Grand Dame of Roma music is back with new drive and her old band. Gypsy Music Network is very proud to be able to present to you this very personal and intimate interview.

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Hello, Vera. It’s nice of you to take time for us, thank you. How are you?
Hello, Robert! It’s a pleasure for me to give an interview for Gypsy Music Network. Thank you, I’m fine. A lot has happened in the past few years and I have gone through some hard times, but now I’m back to share my talent and passion with my fans and listeners and I’m really looking forward to it.
Who all is in your band “Kale” at the moment? Is it the same musicians as before or have things changed?
Right now I am going back to my roots and am performing with the musicians with whom everything began and who have accompanied me throughout my international career. Those are my boys from KALE! Just the guitarist is new, a young, very talented Roma called Marek Miko, who is a fantastic expert on gypsy jazz. The rest are still the same guys from the beginning: Jan Dužda, Emil Bišu Miko, Emil Pupa Miko, Desiderius Lučka.
Are you giving concerts now or are some planned for the near future?
Last summer we had a successful concert tour through Sweden and we had a few concerts in Prague. This year we’ll be playing at the Roma festival Khamoro in Prague, and for summer, some concerts have already been confirmed in various countries throughout Europe. My fans in Belgium, Poland, France, etc. can look forward to that!
You have already given concerts around the world. Is there any experience that you particularly remember?
For me as a Romni from a small village in western Bohemia, it was something very special the way I was accepted by the public in many different countries where we played. But I especially remember two places where we performed and which I view as our greatest personal success: our performance as the first Roma group ever at the Super Bowl in 2001 and our unforgettable performance at the Montreal Jazz Fest in 1999. I also have very beautiful memories of our performances at WOMAD, in Central Park in New York, at the Paleo Festival in Nyon, Switzerland, at the Falun Festival in Sweden...
It has already been six years since your last album came out. Why haven’t we heard from you in such a long time and can we look forward to something new from you soon?
My last album with Kale “C'est Comme Ca” was released in 2009. After that I decided to take care of my husband as he was seriously ill at the time with a kidney disease and I was supporting him and wanted to be there for him. You have to know that since I was 15 years old, he was the love of my life. Unfortunately, he passed away two years ago and shortly after that, my only son also died. That is the reason why I have not performed during the past few years and you have otherwise not heard anything from me. But now I’m back to share my experiences and my suffering with the people through my music and let them take part in it. Do you know something? It is only music now that gives me purpose and keeps me here in this world.
You have my sympathy, Vera. How do you see the current situation of the Roma in your homeland? Has the popularity of Roma musicians such as yourself helped to change peoples’ perceptions?
The situation of the Roma in my country? Believe me, it is often really difficult to be a Roma, in any country where the Roma live, not just in the Czech Republic. Everywhere you look there is poverty, social marginalisation and other bad living conditions. Sure, we well-known Roma artists help positively influence the image to our fellow countrymen and our art is well respected by many people. But I think that something needs to happen, particularly on a political level. There needs to be an active participation of politicians who take care of the problem and the political will to implement measures for the integration of the Roma.
What are your plans for the future?
I have a lot of wishes, but mostly I wish all the people in the world happiness and joy.
Is there something you would like to say in closing?
Have a look at our website and come to our concerts!


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