To promote the new release of The Indomitable Musician – Der Musiker und Die Diktatur – Gjurmë në Pentagram, a trilingual monograph of Francesk Radi by Tefta Radi, the organizers hosted a book launch on Friday at RMIT, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, a public research university in Melbourne, Australia.
Miranda Xhilaga, Director, Research Program and Perparim Xhaferi, Research Fellow at RMIT moderated the event that had both an on-site audience and guest speakers as far away as Florida, Virginia, New York, Worcester and Wisconsin engaging in one-and-a-half hour long discussion about the book. Authored by Tefta Radi, a career TV personality of RTSh – Radio Televisioni Shqiptar – and wife of the esteemed singer songwriter, the book tells the story of a gifted musician with a unique style and a signature voice who despite receiving a harsh punishment by Albania’s authoritarian system made a successful comeback into the music scene that is truly inspirational.
Footage of a 2019 film documentary produced by Tefta Radi and a touching message from their daughter who resides in Germany set the scene for the new book promotion. In her presentation, Dr. Lidia Radi, Professor of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, University of Richmond, Virginia, and also a family member examined the political and historical factors that contextulized the events described in the monograph.
Talking about Radi’s impact, Mimoza Arapi, a reporter and artist who lives in New York, said that the story transcends the time period of a generation that was cut down in its prime, therefore “it’s about censorship of free thinking and individuality.” Furthermore, said Raimonda Moisiu, guest speaker and a Florida freelance journalist, “his notes equipped with the strength of rebellious dreams were embraced by us as part of our collective awareness.”
As far as making the product available and accessible to a wider audience, the author decided to have it written in three languages: Albanian, English and German, “which was a major endeavor,” said publisher Kit Russell. Included in it are singer’s manuscripts and photos, some of which are part of family records and some are obtained from the state archives, a few of them published for the first time in the book.
During the presentation, author Tefta Radi touched on a number of contributions credited to “Franko” Francesk Radi, such as the elevation of a new genre of Albanian Pop music, arrangements of Albanian folk songs, Albanian version of American classics like White Christmas – Krishtlindjet e Bardha – and Elvis Presley song covers culminating with a whole list of Beatles titles – a tribute to one of Radi’s early and most enduring influences.
From a young age, Radi found himself in music and developed his signature voice along with a recognizably distinctive style that stood out. As punishment, he was sent away to be re-educated in a remote location of Northwest Albania in the 70s. With the collapse of communism, two decades later, Radi came back to the stage with his talents and his guitar to delight the audiences.
A singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist, Franko, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 67 in Albania, “created a body of work that brought innovation to the light music genre and did it with an individual style that raised the bar for other musicians,” organizers said. In her remarks, Tefta Radi stated “What makes the book special are the transcripts of Franko’s best musical creations, which represent Albanian pop music of the seventies.” Welcoming this new addition to the biography genre of Albanian musicians and specifically “Franko” who not only survived but made an impact as an artist, Ardian Murraj, a seasoned freelancer of broadcast and print media in Worcester, also a friend and colleague of the Radis from Albania, suggested to have the book included in the inventory of local and public libraries in the US.
The book is printed by Busybird Publishing and contains 446 pages. It is available for purchase on several online sites. Tefta Radi is the winner of multiple media awards. Currently she resides in Melbourne, Australia.