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Head and shoulders portrait of a woman
Neli Andreeva. Photo courtesy of the artist

Homegrown Plus: Neli Andreeva’s Traditional Songs from Bulgaria

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Welcome back to Homegrown Plus! We took a break from presenting 2021 concerts to feature our 2022 series of premieres here on the blog. In 2023 we’re back with a series that includes both live concerts and online video premieres, which gives us the blog space to finish up that 2021 series of Homegrown Plus! (Find the whole Homegrown Plus series here.) Since it’s Women’s History Month, we thought we’d get back into the series with Neli Andreeva. Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with the featured performer, plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections.

A woman stands outdoors in the snow
Neli Andreeva. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Master traditional Bulgarian singer Neli Andreeva was born 1976 in Asenovgrad. She grew up in the resort of Narechen in the majestic Rhodope Mountains. There she learned her first folk songs from her grandmother and mother. Neli graduated from the music school for folk instruments and singing in the village of Shiroka Laka in 1995. Neli Andreeva is renowned for her stirring interpretations of her native Rhodope region. She is a soloist as well as choirmaster of the Philip Koutev Folklore Ensemble, and has also been artistic director of the Nusha vocal ensemble. Followers of Bulgarian folk music invariably associate her name with the songs “Malka moma” and “Kozhilyo,” as well as many others which have brought her worldwide recognition.

In her concert, Neli performed as a soloist, with choirs, and with instrumental accompaniment, for a varied program of traditional song. Watch it in the player below!

The conversation with Neli was a fascinating talk about Bulgarian traditions. Although I did the introductions, the interview was mostly conducted by Theadocia Austen, producer of the Homegrown series and also AFC’s Bulgarian culture specialist. Vlada Tomova assisted as a translator and expert commentator. Find that video below.

Links and Collection Connections

Keep up with Neli on Facebook at this link.

Thanks to Vlada Tomova for helping produce the video and conduct the interview. Find out more about Vlada, and the Bulgarian Master Singers webinars, at her web page.

AFC has several collections featuring Bulgarian music and dance.  Explore our Bulgarian collections guide at this link.

AFC also has several other concerts and lectures online featuring Bulgarian music:

Finally, here’s a fun fact: Malka Moma, which features in the concert and is one of Neli’s best known songs, is one of the few Bulgarian songs with its own Wikipedia page in English!  Find out what the lyrics mean at this link.


As always, thanks for watching, listening, and reading! The American Folklife Center’s Homegrown Concert Series brings music, dance, and spoken arts from across the country, and some from further afield, to the Library of Congress. The idea of the Homegrown Plus series is to gather concert videos, video interviews with the musicians, and connections to Library of Congress collections together in one place for our subscribers. (Find the whole Homegrown Plus series here!)

For information on current concerts, visit the Folklife Concerts page at Concerts from the Library of Congress.


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