Two women from the village of Draginovo, Bulgaria

Kera i Ajshe, 2004>
Mehrema ("Kera") Kichilieva and Aishe Sadakova

Kera and Aishe, two traditional Pomak (Bulgarian Moslem) singers from the village of Draginovo, near Velingrad (Bulgaria), will be visiting the U.S.for the first time during the month of June, 2006. Martha and Dick Forsyth first met Kera in 1980, when she was unceremoniously brought in to "sing for three Americans and a Sofia folklorist". Eighteen years old at the time, she sat quietly for about a minute and a half, and then sang us a song that lasted over seven minutes!

Needless to say, we made a point of keeping in contact with her...and soon met her cousin Aishe. The two cousins are closer than sisters. They have sung together in the very interesting style characteristic of their region since childhood, and they continue to sing today, now that they are married women who own and operate a small bakery - actually, they sing to stay awake as they are preparing the breakfast goodies in the early hours of the morning!

While they are in the U.S., we have set up several informal gatherings at which people can hear them sing, and learn songs from them. In an era of vanishing traditions, they bring us a very special opportunity to hear younger people who have grown up with traditional music and are carrying it forward.

Listen to some of their songs!
Click on a song title to play it.

Opportunities to meet Kera and Aishe

  • Friday, June 2 - Peterborough, NH. Help celebrate the new location of Joseph's Coat, 32 Grove St. Then come around the corner to the Mariposa Museum, where they will sing a few songs.
  • Wednesday, June 7, 7:30 pm, Allston, MA. "An Evening of Bulgarian Village Singing" at the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church. Co-hosted by Divi Zheni, Martha Forsyth, and Pat Iverson.
  • Friday, June 9, 7:00 pm - Newton, MA. Supper and party.
  • Saturday, June 10, 8-11 pm, Arlington, MA. Kera and Aishe will attend the monthly Bulgarian Dance Party and Concert with Zdravets, and will sing for us at some point during the evening.
  • Monday, June 12 - Freeport, Maine (near Portland). An opportunity to learn some songs (4:30), share a potluck supper with the ladies (6:45-7:30 pm - please bring a dish to share), and hear some singing (7:30-8:30) from the group Zemya, and Kera and Aishe.
  • Friday, June 16 - New York City, in the West Village, 6:30 pm. Opportunity both to learn some songs, and to listen.
  • Saturday, June 17, 11:00-12:30 - Brooklyn, New York. After that we'll high-tail it north for the Clearwater Festival (Croton Point Park, Croton-on-Hudson, Westchester County, NY) where Kera and Aishe have been given time on the Hudson Community Stage, 4:15-5:00
  • Sunday, June 18 - mid-Hudson Valley, NY. Afternoon gathering at Breezy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill. Cooking at 1:00, music at 4:00.
  • Monday, June 19, 7:30 pm - New Brunswick, NJ. Meet the ladies, listen to them sing, talk with them, and maybe learn a song or two.
  • Wednesday, June 21, 8:00 - Takoma Park, MD. Last party!
For more information, please contact Martha Forsyth at 617/964-2003 or