Vera Bila and Kale (which translates to Vera White and the Blacks) come from a small town in Bohemia about 70 kilometers west of Prague in the heart of Eastern Europe. As with most Romany groups, all of the band are related family members. Vera Bila's music is deceptively simple and sophisticated at the same time. It's exotic yet homey, Central European yet Latin American. Partially due to the deplorable attitude of many Czechs towards Romanies, Vera Bila and Kale are actually better known in France than in their own country.
It wouldn't be surprising for a casual listener to confuse this recording with 'The Best of Gal Costa." Only after examining the album cover would he then realize instead of the willowy Brazilian star, he's really listening to a 5-feet-tall, 350-pound (150 cm, 150 kg) Gypsy from Southern Moravia!
While Bila may sound like a Brazilian pop singer, her band sounds remarkably like the Gypsy Kings. And no wonder. This Romany band (as Gypsies prefer to be called) also uses acoustic guitars and layered male vocals, although the sound is often augmented by additional instruments.
Gypsy music when performed by true gypsies has a special quality that stems from the performers' easy, rambling way of life. As with the blues, where you can't sing them if you've never felt them, you can't perform gypsy music if you have not led the life. Courtesy Calabash Music