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Martina & František Duda / Slovakia

František, known as Ferko, and Martina, who is referred to by the diminutive Martinka, are two unusual Roma artists from Slovakia.

The blind brother and sister, forced by illness to move around in wheelchairs, are an example of how to find joy in music despite the hardships of life – and share it with their audiences.

They learned to sing from their grandmother. They live in their home village of Sol, a few kilometres from Vranov nad Topľou and are the darlings of the local community. They have a repertoire of hundreds of Roma songs. František says: “There are people who are worse off than we are, who do not have arms and legs. So we want to show them our strength”. His sister adds: “We want to show them that hope does not die”.

Cristiano Bertie’s film “Lety” was devoted to the Dudas, showing their voyage from their hometown in eastern Slovakia to the Czech village of Lety. The journey was an opportunity for both artists to talk about their experiences and feelings.

Much attention has been devoted to their work by the ethnographer Janka Belišová. It was she who discovered the previously unknown artists. She says of them: “Because they cannot see, they are not corrupted by the world. Their singing rings with purity, sincerity, but also joy. They have a strong charisma”.

Most often they perform a cappella songs, with Martina singing the main melody, and Ferko imitating the sound of a guitar, beating the rhythm with his hands. Their songs featued on two albums from the series “Phurikane Gila”.

Martina Duda
- vocals
František Duda - vocals

The concert took place in 2015.

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