Karel Gott to sing in Carnegie Hall

The well-known, and for some, controversial Czech singer Karel Gott is to give a concert in New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall on September 29th. The concert is sponsored by the New York-based Golden Prague restaurant, whose owner Jiri Suchanek told reporters if there was a Czech singer big enough to play Carnegie Hall, it was undoubtedly Karel Gott, a sentiment not shared by everybody in the Czech Republic, says Olga Szantova.

Karel Gott, the Golden Nightingale. He's won that award, presented to the most popular singer of the year on the basis of a vote open to the public, 22 times, which, in itself is an awesome record. Generations grew up listening to Gott on the radio, seeing him in numerous films and, as technology developed, on TV. He's released more than 150 albums, which have sold like hotcakes over the years. Born in July 1939, Karel Gott started singing publicly in 1957. Having heard his voice, some teachers at the Prague Conservatory convinced him to study singing, and he did so at the Prague Conservatory from 1960 to 64.

But classical music has only been a sideline in Gott's performances, pop is where he has been most successful. Not only in this country, but also abroad, especially in Germany and Russia. Throughout the years Karel Gott has never left the limelight, and that's one of the reasons why many see him as a controversial figure. He was the star of many a communist celebration, he enjoyed a comfortable position under the old regime, especially since his concerts abroad brought much-needed hard currency into the state economy. More of it, they said, than some of the country's largest factories. So, that's one grudge against Gott. Another, that his singing is, to put it kindly, outdated - after all, he was 60 last July. The New York audience will have a chance to judge that for themselves - in Carnegie Hall on September 29th.

Author: Olga Szantová
run audio