Mixtape Interview: Bajram Kafu Kinolli

“I once had a great family / The Black Legion murdered them / Come with me, Roma from all the world”

— OneBeat 2015 Fellow, Bajram Kafu Kinolli


As a “Roma” Means Human

[Translation]

I went, I went on long roads

I met happy Roma

O Roma, where do you come from,

With tents happy on the road?

O Roma, O Romani youths!

I once had a great family,

The Black Legion murdered them

Come with me, Roma from all the world

For the Roma, roads have opened

Now is the time, rise up Roma now,

We will rise high if we act

O Roma, O Romani youths!

Open, God, White doors

So I can see where are my people.

Come back to tour the roads

And walk with happy Roma

O Roma, O Romani youths!

Up, Romani people! Now is the time

Come with me, Roma from all the world

Dark face and dark eyes,

I want them like dark grapes

O Roma, O Romani youths!

What was the process like arranging this song in a OneBeat ensemble?

This song is a very traditional which is typically played on traditional instruments. Performing this with OneBeat is a different vibe, with different sounds and arrangement. I don’t perform this with my group at home often. And if we do it’s in a very different style.

You’ve done a lot of socially focused work with youth back home. How does this inform your work as a musician and bandleader?

It’s always good to learn from the younger generation. What do they think about or what attracts them? When I work with youth I gain a lot of skills I can translate to work with my own band. It impacts how I go about solving problems and gives me patience in certain situations I might not have had before.

As a Roma musician, how do you feel the culture is represented abroad, particularly in the United States?

I didn’t come to the U.S. promote Roma culture there. I came to share and get something in return from all the musicians I met. OneBeat was a good program for our national pride and it was good for me personally. The U.S. should engage in more long-term cultural exchange programs, I think there needs to be a lot more representation.

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