Věra Bílá is the most popular contemporary Czech Roma singer. She
was born on May 22, 1954, in Rokycany. She comes from a musical family, "the
Giňas", who moved to Rokycany from eastern Slovakia in 1945. Her mother was an
outstanding singer. Her father, Karol Giňa, led a cimbalon band which played in
the wide area around Rokycany, especially at Roma weddings and parties (in
contrast to prewar Slovakia, when Roma bands were hired by non-Roma). Bílá
has kept her traditional way of life: according to the Roma proverb,
"He who marries someone has to stay with him until death", she has been living with her husband,
František, since she was fifteen years old. They have an adopted son. She
preserves traditional customs: Belief in God [Devel] and even in mule is a part of her life.
Bílá has been performing in
public since the age of eight. First she sang in the traditional milieu of
family celebrations, marriages and parties. Since 1994, she has been singing
professionally with the group
"Kale" ("Black"), in which members of Věra's large
family play. Bílá's singing is characteristically exceptionally colourful; her
rich voice with its wide range makes her performance distinctively expressive.
Věra Bílá plays five musical instruments: guitar, piano, cimbalon, percussion
and accordion, but she does not play them in public.
In concerts, Bílá sings traditional songs of Czech and Slovak Roma – hallgatós and Csardases – but, above all,
Rom-Pop. She herself writes the texts and composes
the melodies of most of the songs, whose subjects and turns of phrase are drawn
from her traditional Roma background as well as from contemporary life
In 1985, a songbook of her favorite songs of the time,
"Kali Zpívá" ("Kali Sings"), was published.
The success of her first two CDs ("Rom pop", 1995, and
"Kale kalore",1998), brought Bílá and her
"Kale", invitations to prestigious
international festivals of ethnic music, e.g. "Les Printemps de Bourges"
(France), Falun (Sweden), and Kaustinen (Finland). In 1999, Bila undertook a
grand concert tour through Europe, the USA and Japan with her group. They also
gave concerts in Canada and the Vatican. Their CD
"Rovava" (2001) came out simultaneously in
Switzerland, Finland, England, France, Poland, Israel, Holland and Belgium.
Věra Bílá played in two films by the Slovak director Dušan Hanák,
"Růžové sny" ("Pink Dreams"), 1976 and
"Já milujem, tu miluješ" ("I Love, You Love"), 1980. A semi-documentary film about Věra Bílá,
"Černobílá v barvě" ("Black and White in Colour") was filmed by the
director Mira Erdevički-Charap in 1999.