The octogenarian whose folk songs are restoring ‘the Amazon of Europe’

Eighty-year-old Silvia Dan learnt her folk songs at her grandmother’s knee. Having spent her life caring for livestock on her smallholding in the Carpathian Mountains, she’s now starring on an album released in the UK.

Made by Romanian-born, Brighton-based artist Nico de Transilvania, the album – Interbeing – was recorded in the remote village of Nucsoara, where Dan is renowned for the pure beauty of her voice. A team of artists, videographers, photographers and musicians travelled to the village 180km north of Bucharest to record with Dan and local musicians on traditional Romanian flutes.

It is an area that is renowned for its old-growth forests which support lynx, wolves and bears, and is often described as the Amazon of Europe. Illegal logging has severely affected the region, so de Transilvania wanted to record the album as a way to use music to restore some of the damage. Every copy of the album sold will go towards planting native trees that are properly protected in law, in a project personally overseen by de Transilvania via her nonprofit Forests without Frontiers. So far the organisation has planted 150,000 trees over the last three years.

For Dan, whose grandmother wrote all her own folk songs, it feels right that they are now helping to restore the forests that inspired her.

“The album means a lot to me, it makes me proud that future generations will hear my ancestor’s songs – music and nature are embedded in our blood,” she said. “I am so happy that money raised will help to restore the landscape near my village – it has been devastating to see the destruction, and this project gives me hope.”

Main image: Marius Sumlea


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