Gergana Velinova: The Softly Singing Thief

Who is the softly singing thief?

As a child, she sang with one of the most beloved children choirs in Bulgaria, Pim Pam; as a teenager she sang in what became the official soundtrack of Bulgaria’s historic and peaceful transition towards democracy; and now she is blossoming musically and creatively merging east and south, way up north and west, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Gergana Velinova is her name and when you hear her voice on either of her newly released records — ‘The Thief’ featuring her original compositions and ‘Softly’ a CD of jazz ballads performed by voice and piano duets –you will pause and deeply, truly listen. And that is exactly what I did… after which I wanted to know more, so I decided to ask Gergana some questions.

I have to admit that I have never met Gergana in person, though we have a thing or two in common — our Bulgarian roots, the Baha’i Faith, and a passionate love for music. Yet we are formally strangers, so I truly appreciate the time she took from her busy schedule — and in the middle of the Baha’i Fast (which just finished) — to share her answers to my questions.

But first, a few words about her two CDs:

The Thief was produced in 2010 by Misha Piatigorsky and Joby Baker with Misha on keys, Neil Swainsonon bass, Willard Dyson on drums and percussion and Gord Clements on reeds. It features new original compositions by Gergana set to her poems as well as a wild improvisation of a Bulgarian folk tune, a soul original by Eric Dozier and a tribute to Elis Regina in Portuguese.

Softly is Gergana’s newest record of jazz ballads performed in an intimate duet setting, interpreted brilliantly in a French Impressionistic style by pianist Walter Martella is going to be released in Canada on March 24, 2011. This new musical collaboration presents Gergana’s vocal artistry in a completely different light than her 2010 The Thief. Softly aims to bring Gergana’s audience back to the old fashioned way of making music i.e., the record was cut “live of the floor” over two days by producer Paul Steenhuis at the Powell River Academy of Music using a Steinway D concert grand piano. In order to preserve the acoustic feel and sound of a live concert, a few imperfections were kept in the recording. In other words, what you will hear on this new record  was produced with little or no editing. Welcome back to the world of jazz art song!

And now, welcome to Gergana’s world:

q: Where did you put the stolen treasures from “The Thief”?

a: I consummated them all right away. Hungry for more 🙂

q: What is the key that opens the cave of your inspiration?

a: Love and complete submission to God.

q: Where is your home? Geographically, musically, spiritually?

a: On Earth geographically, musically, spiritually my home is my heart.

q: Where is your destination?

a: I pray it will be the Kingdom of Baha.

q: Is your path laid with yellow bricks or cobble stones or green grass?

a:  All of the above and more. To get the full picture please read my poem “This Road” on my web site under “Poetry.” I think the answer will be there:

This Road

This road i walk on is narrow and hidden.
My bear body covered with thorns.
My mouth ever so dry.
Bloody drops drip from my small feet,
smear the soil and stones.
I meet others who travel,
wandering why i wish to walk here. Not there.
When all i could do is make a small step, change my direction.
Why do i only eat seeds,
when i could feast ’round the big human fires.

Why? Why? Why?
I don’t know.
Maybe i’m in love with a Bird
who’s tripping around, singing:
follow me, follow me,…and you shall find.
Yes, i do bleed.
Yet something inside me
pushes me forward, waters my mouth.
Maybe i ought to be crazy
when seeing the trails of my blood,
i hysterically laugh,
for it shows me that i am alive!

This road i walk on is narrow and hidden.
Here, you must learn to feed from the soul,
and drink from the lakes.
Here, you can shower with rain,
and shelter your body with blankets of leaves.
Here, you can talk to the plants,
and play with the beasts.
And when your heart tells you a poem at midnight,
you may ask the Moon kindly, she’ll lend you her light.

This road i walk on,
so narrow and hidden,
is just what i’ve searched for
since the day i was born.

G. V. 2004
from “Here’s To You”

q: Are you a creator or a co-creator?

a: I feel that each of us is the Creator’s channel for expression of His Revelation in whatever way we were destined to express it. All that is asked of us is to become a ‘hollow read’.

q: Which comes first for you — the poetry or the melody or the chords?

a: First always come the beginning line, the first phrase, the “zone”. I wrote my first poem in first grade in the middle of the night in a half asleep state..looked for the pen on my desk and scribbled the words on whatever i could find. Words were flowing like a river. Come morning, we discovered I had written all over my math homework. The poem was later on published in a book and now is being recited by children in Bulgaria. So since then I’ve learned that when I get a signal from ‘the zone’ I must leave everything and write or else it will be gone forever. Writing songs is very new for me. Sometimes first I have a poem then melody, sometimes the opposite, sometimes it is together.

q: Do you see yourself more as a synthesizer of musical thoughts or an analyzer of poetic feelings?

a: I see no separation. We live in a world of separation of everything: thought, movement, feel of the senses but ultimately we are being called to remember the oneness of things. Just as dance and singing and playing instruments in folklore music around the world is always experienced as one, same way I feel about my creative process. No separation. Things “arrive” in my head and heart simultaneously just as they are, in one complete vision or package. The heart and the mind speak one language.

And to that, my dear readers, I will only add that if you want a new soundtrack for these days of budding flowers, gentle musical breeze and spiritual awakening, wait no more but go to Gergana’s website and get her new CDs!

Happy Naw Ruz and happy spring 🙂

4 Responses to “Gergana Velinova: The Softly Singing Thief

  • FastTraffik
    9 years ago

    this is really interesting! thank you for sharing! i am looking forward to getting more familiar with Gergana’s art.

  • Thanks Mitko!!! What a cool interview! going to check her out at once! keep it all up 🙂 Happy Naw Ruz <3

Trackbacks & Pings

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.