Among the most underprivileged ethnic communities in Serbia, and wider in Europe, the Roma largely live in segregated settlements on society’s fringes, facing poverty, joblessness and prejudice.
Their songs are about “women chained” in abuse witnessed by generations, or teenage brides being forced into marriage by their fathers. But they tell women to seek love, fight back and stand up for their right to be equal with men. A female Roma band in Serbia has used music to preach women’s empowerment within their community, challenging some deeply rooted traditions and centuries-old male domination.
Formed in 2014, “Pretty Loud” symbolically seeks to give a louder voice to Roma girls, encourage education and steer away from the widespread custom of early marriage. The band has gained popularity and international attention, performing last year at the Women of the Year Festival in London.
The girls initially danced in Grubb’s boys’ band and then decided they wanted one of their own, she said. “They (Grubb) named us ‘Pretty Loud’ because they knew that women in Roma tradition are not really loud,” she said. A combination of rap and Roma traditional beat, the band’s music is targeting primarily a younger generation of girls who are yet to make their life choices — the band itself includes 14-year-old twin sisters.