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With indigenous national origins that date back as far as 300 AD, Delilah, a pure gypsy (Romanyi) artist, has a cultural and musical heritage that has survived and transcended centuries of persecution.
In her heartfelt solo debut, A Sweeter Life, it’s apparent from the intoxicating rhythmic mantra and anthem, Gypsy, Gypsy, the CD’s opening track, Delilah speaks for a culture that is indeed still in search of “a sweeter life.” When she sings, “We walk the streets alone, no place to call our own,” you know she’s echoing sentiments of a misunderstood and maligned existence for over some 12 million gypsies around the world who also account for Europe’s largest minority.
With origins dating back to in India over 1000 years ago, Delilah’s family was part of several major gypsy dispersals to Eastern and Western Europe in the 14th Century. Born in Budapest, Hungary, Delilah, her sister and two brothers, learned the rituals of classic Roma music from their parents from early childhood. By the age of 10, she was singing and dancing with her family in a 20-member touring ensemble with one of Hungary’s noted Roma performers, Bongo Margit, throughout Europe. By the time she was 16, she and her older brother Paul, a guitar virtuoso, were playing jazz music and performing with violinist Sonny Walker, another Roma legend, who jammed regularly with her father and family at impromptu gatherings in her home. Delilah’s comfortable and sheltered existence came to an abrupt and dramatic ending when she and her sister were violently abducted and savagely beaten by a racist mob. Fearing further racial repercussions, her father sought refuge and political asylum in Toronto, Canada, where he moved his family in 1998.
At 19, Delilah, with her brother, started performing in Toronto’s jazz clubs, where they started to develop some local notoriety. Her brother’s exemplary guitar skills caught the attention of guitarist, Dave Sereny, which ultimately led to an introduction to Delilah. Floored with her musical gifts, Sereny immediately signed her to his fledgling record label, Groove United.
For the past several years Delilha has been preparing for her debut, writing, exploring, and working with different songwriters and producers to forge her own artistic identity. That identity went full circle, ending up with a musical fusion of traditional gypsy music with a splattering of jazz and modern dance beats that is infectious and irresistible to the senses. The glue that keeps the haunting mood intact is Delilah’s scintillating, breathy and siren-like melodic tones and intense personal connection to the lyrical content of each song. She expresses how gypsy people live life: their pain, love of family, and love for each other. Delilah’s spirit and conviction is aptly displayed in several classic gypsy tracks which she wrote in her native language and in English, including the title track A Sweeter Life, Gypsy, Gypsy, I Love You, Gypsy Heart, and Avale La Roma, a fun and spirited romp that urges to all gypsy men to “get up and dance.” Sereny, along with Vikter Duplaix (Erykah Badu, Jazzanova), Lemoyne Alexander and fellow Groove United labelmate 2nd Sun all contributed as producers on the CD.
The completion of Delilah’s debut CD and its ultimate release in 2005 is bittersweet for the vivacious and inspired young singer. A year before she completed the record, all of her family members were deported back to Hungary. “I miss my family, but our story lives and breathes in these songs.”
On the “sweeter”side, Delilah was granted political asylum in Canada and her gypsy legacy will continue with her four-year old son, an incredibly gifted drummer who seems ready to carry on the family tradition.
You can’t help but root for Delilah in her quest for a “sweeter life,” and when she sings, “Maybe in time things will get better, I’m waiting for the day of change,” you realize she’s not wishing for herself, but for her people and the whole world.