WOMEX 20 Award Ceremony Showcase:
Sunday 25 October 14:00 CET
When Mónika Lakatos was crowned the winner of the Hungarian TV talent show Ki Mit Tud? in 1996, she wasn’t blasting out pop covers to pre-recorded backing tracks. Instead, she sang the traditional music of her own community, the Olah Romani people. The strength and passion of her voice made her a stand-out performer, and the win provided her first big break. Thus began an impressive professional career, championing the people and culture of the Olah every step of the way.
Within Hungary, the Olah Romani are a minority of a minority, with only around 30,000 people still practicing their language and way of life. Mónika has her roots in Nagyecsed, a village at the heart of the Olah community in north-eastern Hungary famous for its music. With music and songs all around her, she has been singing for as long as she can remember, allowing her to imbue her own work with heartfelt emotion.
Now the leader of prominent ensembles including The Gipsy Voices and Romengo, Mónika always keeps her family’s vast repertoire of lyrical hallgató and danceable pergető songs to the fore. Within a very traditional setting, she pushes boundaries, celebrating the voices and experiences of women in a society often focused on the masculine, and providing space for Romani youths to make themselves heard, too.
It is for her commitment to the Olah people and their music, for her mission to ensure that female Romani voices can be heard on the world stage and for her highest personal artistry as a performer that Mónika Lakatos is presented with the WOMEX 20 Artist Award.