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La Nona Kanta

Flory Jagoda sings the songs of her great-great-great-great-great grandparents

Julie Subrin
January 09, 2007

Growing up in the Bosnian village of Vlasenica, Flory Jagoda spent her afternoons and evenings singing with her family—everyone sang, her grandmother, her aunts, uncles and cousins. Though they’d lived in the Balkans for centuries, their songs were in Judeo-Spanish, or Ladino, passed down from the time of her ancestors’ expulsion from Spain.

World War II nearly obliterated the Sephardic community of Sarajevo and its surroundings. At 82, Flory Jagoda is one of the few people who remembers the musical traditions of that community. As the matriarch of a large clan—and as a teacher, composer, and performer—she is passing that tradition on. For her efforts, in 2002 she was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts. These are her songs and stories, as told to us from her home in Virginia.

Flory Jagoda’s songs have been collected on four CDs, available here.

Photo courtesy of Altaras Recordings.

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Julie Subrin is Tablet Magazine’s executive producer for audio.

Julie Subrin is Tablet Magazine’s executive producer for audio.