It is a rare experience to live in a place surrounded by different cultures intermingling with one another. However, New York is the Mecca of destinations providing access to unlimited sources of opportunities to manifest dreams of the creative mind. As I walked into CUNY Graduate Center, I did not know what to expect. While the lights remained dimmed and the crew set up instruments on stage, moments later Vlada Tomova and her group entered from the right stage entrance.

Vlada dressed in authentic Bulgarian attire with a fire engine red flower blossoming from her hair, took the stage holding a microphone, and welcomed the embrace and round of applause from the audience. She introduced her group members, and minutes later, it was show time. Immediately, her voice echoed and surrounded the performance hall and her vocal chords jolted my spirit to perk up and forced other senses to follow.

In between songs Vlada briefly described and defined each new track and the significance in her life. One of my favorite tracks titled “The sun, moon, and mountains” meticulously celebrated through each syllable, and intentional pauses for the audience to capture the experience. Vlada mentioned the elements specified above are commonly utilized in traditional Bulgarian melodies but serve a different purpose and meaning. In this case, this particular song was a metaphor to Vlada’s perspective to youth and aging. She emphasizes in the mountains there are forests and similar to life, the leaves renew themselves with time; however, in the case of our existence, in time we wither and never renew our youth. Yes, I will surrender to honesty and admit after she finished singing, I erupted in tears; thank goodness I came prepared with Kleenex.

When Vlada sings it feels as if she exists in an internal oasis of seduction, passion, and contentment bursting out via her vocals. It is as if she disappears in a state of Nirvana as she closes her eyes and sings from the belly, heart and soul. A few other favorite tunes included a song titled “Chili Peppers” and she explained it was a song performed on the first night as a married couple.  “Scarlet Moon” is a song about a young man in the village who pleads with the moon not to shine because he unintentionally broke a girls’ heart. Additionally, because he is aware of his mistakes, he wants the day to remain so he can immediately make amends and stitch the broken pieces before a new day begins. The last personal favorite song titled “Happy Love” could be considered as an example of a national anthem to couples worldwide. Vlada defines this as her favorite as well and explains despite family, friends, or unforeseen obstacles in your life preventing you from love, take the risk, and follow your heart; cross your boundaries occasionally and you might surprise yourself.

By: Laura M. Artis.