Over the past two decades, a steady stream of recordings, videos, feature films, and concerts has presented the music of European Gypsies, or Roma, to Western audiences, who have greeted them with exceptional enthusiasm. Yet, as author Carol Silverman tes, Roma are revered as musicians and reviled as people. In this book, Silverman introduces readers to the people and cultures who produce this music, offering a sensitive and incisive analysis of how Romani musicians function successfully within oppressive circumstances. Focusing on the Romani communities in southeastern Europe then moving to the diaspora communities, her book examines the music within these diverse Gypsy communities, the lives and careers of outstanding musicians, and the presentation of music in the electronic media and world music concert circuit. Silverman touches on the way that the Roma exemplify many qualities - rootlessness, cultural hybridity, transnationalism - that are taken to characterize late modern experience. Rather than just celebrating these qualities, she presents the musicians as complicated, pragmatic individuals who work creatively within the many constraints that inform their lives. As both a performer and presenter of world music, Silverman has worked extensively with Romani communities for more than two decades both in their home countries and in the diaspora. At a time when the political and ecomic plight of European Roma and the popularity of their music are objects of international attention, Silverman's book is incredibly timely.
Professor of Anthropology and Folklore at the University of Oregon