Vaska Ilieva (1927-2001)
I remember even today how my father slapped me. It happened rarely. It wasn’t about something important… or, it did not seem so for many years. Our little rented room, that spring evening, was too small for the songs by the legend and the legendary. The old people sang along with Vaska and Radio Skopje the old tune “Sister invites a brother to dinner”, while from my “Trubadur” (record player brand) Jagger and Richards rolled “Satisfaction.” My adolescent fervor was pushing to infinity the beauty of yet another unrepeatable part of life. And it was logical that all that remained from my dearest single record were just pieces, and the record player was “out” for a long while afterwards… because it took an eternity to scrap money from my allowance to repair it.
I admit, in the years to come I did not enjoy when I would hear Vaska on the radio sing or talk about her performances in Australia or America… about the delight of our people there, the warm receptions, the tears of joy… I admit, it was futile for the person I trusted the most to try to persuade me that we carry the code for our music in the veins, that the “Tanec” folk dance company, Pece Atanasovski, Tale Ognenovski, Aleksandar Sarievski, Niko Badev, Kiril Mančevski, Vaska Ilieva, Vanja Lazarova… are unprecedented artists, cherished and respected by the world…
I let the truth touch me only years after my father “left.” Not because I did away with my “urban” music, but the “enlightenment” came by itself. With unrestrainablle pride I began to compose the puzzle of records. I stored them and kept them as relics. By the way, I was not at all amazed that I would allow, for my mother’s glasses, to let the songs “Macedonian land,” “The maiden Pandora got dressed in new,” “Business traveler from a faraway place,” “When it fell on Pirin,” “In a faraway place water come” flow from the CD-player. And to sing together with her and Aunt Vaska the strong melodies of “Sister invites a brother to dinner”, “Nine masons were making a bridge,” “Oh destiny,” and “Who ever hears me sing.”
On top of that, I would retell the story that the singer was her age, born in 1927 in Skopje. And that her father Todor Boshkov was one of the first bagpipe players in “Tanec,” that her aunt Bonda Dimishkova was a famous vocalist, that the two of them took her into the company in 1950… And that later she became a solo artist in Radio Skopje, producing unmatchable beautiful duets with Badev and Sarievski. I would say with ease: Vaska is one and only. Unrepeatable. I knew that she believed me. She was immensely proud when I talked for an hour with the legendary singer, on the airwaves of Macedonian Radio, where I was recently employed.
These days we again listen to Vaska Ilieva, as members of two generations. Her album from the edition “Macedonian folk classics.” More than usual. The legend left on May 4 this year, to sing about Macedonia to the angels. We still listen to her because of our local truth. Because of our reality, our spirit, and our existence.
That’s why, instead of goodbye, we bid a new welcome to the songs of Vaska Ilieva, her heavenly voice, and our unsupressable folk tradition.
Translated by: Filip Stojanovski