Raduza: a singer with unbounded inspiration


She is a young fragile-looking woman but with a raw and deep voice, full of life and energy. She started as a very young girl busking with a guitar. Now she is one of the most popular Czech folk singers. Raduza - as she calls herself - has now released her third CD, but the new album is not just a continuation of her previous work - one can feel that Raduza has found new inspiration and that her music is developing. But she says that she hasn't gone for a deliberate change of style.

"I don't change anything. I don't think it's me who writes the songs. It just comes to me and there is nothing I can do about it. I have to write it the way it comes. I've seen that during the last six months the songs have been changing a little bit and it is interesting to watch where these changes take me."

You say you don't write the songs but you don't mean you sing someone else's music, do you?

"I don't mean that I sing songs of somebody else. What I mean is that the songs are coming to me and I don't feel like a composer. I feel as if the composer is somebody else and I am a sort of medium."

So tell me something more about the origin of your songs. How do they come to the world? Where do you look for inspiration?

"The stories that are in my songs are either mine or they are about my friends or about the people I see from the window when I travel or when I see lovers. So I write a song about them because it is a nice view."

Raduza was discovered when busking on the street by another great Czech folk singer Zuzana Navarova who died last year at the tragically early age of 45. In my view many of Raduza's songs reflect Zuzana Navarova's music. Raduza says they were great friends, they sang together for a long time but she doesn't think she has been too much influenced by Navarova's style.

Zuzana Navarova
"I don't think so. Her music was coming from the tradition of Cuban music, Brazilian music, Salsa and these kinds of styles, whereas my style is coming from Czech folk music - the music that was played especially in the cities but also in countryside. All my childhood my grandfather sang me songs which he had learned when he was a soldier, when he was young. So these were the first songs I ever heard."

Raduza's art is not only in the music itself. The lyrics that she writes are a very important part of her songs. It is a special folk poetry - some of her texts tell humorous folksy stories, others tend to a more romantic style. As well as songs in Czech there are also several songs in other languages on her new CD: Polish, Italian, French.... I had assumed they were original folk songs from those countries and I was very surprised to learn that it is Raduza herself who wrote both their music and lyrics.

"In the last two years I've been traveling really a lot, so I have had lots of experience in other languages. When I am in Poland, I speak Polish to my friends; the same is in Italy or in France. So when I am telling a story I experienced, I tell it in the language in which it happened."

Nowadays Raduza is a very popular singer in the Czech Republic and frequently also has concerts abroad, but 12 years ago she was still a very young girl - a completely unknown singer - when the American pop-folk star Suzanne Vega chose her as a support at her concert in Prague.

"At that time I was still singing on the street and someone saw me and had the idea that it could be fun to take this girl from the street to a concert of a big international star. So that's the way it happened. But to tell you the truth I don't remember it very well because I was afraid very much and I was drunk." (she laughs)

After several concerts in Poland and France Raduza is more and more in demand to play abroad. So what are her next plans?

"Next week I'm going to Warsaw. I'm looking forward to it very much because I have friends there and also my friends from Italy are coming, so we will have fun, we will play together, drink some vodka so it will be very good. But in fact I don't have any plans. Maybe I will go to France again, I will go for sure to Germany....I think I will go anywhere if friendly people invite me."