|     |  


Bilal was born in 1983 in a gipsy clan, the “Doms”, that Gadjos (non-gypsies) call the “Nawar”.

As his family travelled throughout the Middle East, men would play musical instruments and sing; women dance and tell good fortune, while young boys work in shoeshine in large cities like Damascus, Beirut and Istanbul.

It was in 1998 that Michel Elefteriades met Bilal who was working as a shoeshine boy in the same street as Elefteriades’ office; a 14 year-old boy, with a powerful voice declaiming a Gipsy song while he worked for a client on the sidewalk. Michel Elefteriades, persistently in the quest of unveiling hidden talents, was instantly attracted by Bilal’s voice and decided to start his initiation to the world of music. Although Bilal never been to school, he quite quickly acquired the necessary skills and assets to enable him to put up with both the stress and responsibilities of the status of an artist.

In 2002, Bilal started giving concerts and appeared as a star guest in the biggest shows of the Arab satellite networks. The peak of his success story was his appearance at the Baalbeck Festival, the most prestigious festival in the Arab world. His recordings included, and for the first time in history, songs in the gipsy tongue known as Domari, a language very close to Romani, as Bilal was able to communicate with his Rom cousins from Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, each one speaking in his own mother tongue.

Bilal is not only an artist. He is also fighting for the recognition of his people who are still marginalised and living in extremely harsh conditions. Both his talent and collaboration with the Elefteriades team enabled him to better engage in his cultural struggle. The Gipsy Prince is now singing to the world the Nawar’s (Gipsies’) rich heritage that deserves both our respect and admiration.