Singer Ida Kellarová – an ambassador for Romany culture

Ida Kelarová, photo: Adam Kebrt / Czech Radio

Ida Kelarová is a singer, musician and choirmaster, who performs some of the best Romany music to come out of the Czech Republic. On the occasion of Ida’s 65th birthday we are offering you some of the best of Ida Kellarová’s music.

In addition to her concerts, the singer organizes international workshops, multi-ethnic projects, the Roma festival Gypsy Celebration and helps found choirs with a repertoire of Romany songs. In 1999, together with her current partner Desiderio Dužda, she formed the group Romano Rat (Roma Blood), with which she tours many countries of the world.

Ida Kelarová with Čhavorenge and Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  photo: Petr Kadlec,  Miret,  z.s.

Paradoxically it was years before Ida discovered her Romany roots and drew inspiration from Roma culture and music. Because of the prejudices against the Romany minority, her father Koloman Bitto, a Romany from southern Slovakia with incredible musical talent, took the drastic step of covering up his family’s origin. He believed he was doing the right thing for his three daughters and giving them a better start in life. Since the girls were light-haired and Ida herself was a blond baby the deception went undetected for years.

Today her Roma legacy has become an important part of Ida Kellarova’s life and she works hard to help talented Romany children living in excluded localities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Ida Kelarova +Čhavorenge (o.s.Miret) + Česká filharmonie- Hej romale

Her Romany children's choir Chavorenge, established 10 years ago, tours the country and cooperates with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. But above all it has given dozens of Romany children a glimpse of a better life and the ambition to make the most of their talents.

Her sister, violinist, singer and composer Iva Bittová, dubbed the queen of Czech avant-garde, has a unique music style of her own which mesmerizes audiences the world over. She too draws deeply on her Romany roots. Their father who feared so much for his daughters would have been proud.