Liliana Çavolli – The Albanian Music Diva who Generously Shared her Song and Soul with the Public

Liliana Çavolli has left a permanent mark in the history of Kosovar music, leaving behind more than 300 immortal songs. She is among the first singers in Kosovo to have completed music school, at a time when realizing such a dream was a challenge. Liliana not only became beloved for the music she offered but also paved the way for many young women who followed her path.

She graced the music scene for more than five decades. Known as Lili to her friends, she also contributed to the music editorial office at Radio Prishtina. Before the war, she served as the author and moderator of the show ‘Evergreen’ on Radio Kosova. Her 70th birthday and five decades of a career on stage were celebrated in a mega-concert organized by Grupi Koha at the National Theater of Kosovo in February 2013.

“For five decades in a row, she gave her song and soul to the public. She never asked for anything in return. But time brought her reward. The evening of Sunday, February 3, for many may have been ordinary. But not for the diva of Albanian music, Liliana Çavolli,” Koha Ditore wrote about the concert. “It is the most beautiful evening of my life,” was the description given by Çavolli for the gala concert entitled “Song and Soul, for Lili with Heart.”

Liliana Çavolli was born in Prizren, while her family came to Kosovo from Korça. She grew up in Skopje, North Macedonia. Liliana’s mother was a singer, and one morning she took her as a companion to a radio appearance, where her career in music began. Fate again brought her back to Prizren where Liliana took her first steps as a singer. At the same time, she attended solo singing lessons at a high school of music and joined the Artistic Cultural Society ‘Agimi.’ Talent, voice, and work in Prizren made Liliana quickly stand out as a promising name.”

The singer from Prizren was known as the lily of this city, and the song ‘Lily of Prizren’ best symbolizes the artist. Liliana Çavolli stood out as a rare artist who conquered the heights of pop music but also excelled in other genres. She radiated positivity and warmth with those who gravitated close to her. Liliana, with her personality and creativity, has enriched cultural life, remaining forever a precious cultural treasure. For Lili, her friend and famous singer Nexhmije Pagarusha said:

“Liliana Çavolli is an excellent singer, both in the past and today. She has sung with equal success in both pop and the folk song genres. Liliana is a wonderful soprano who can still perform live today. She would never agree to sing ‘playback.”

Sami Piraj, composer, and music journalist, described Liliana by saying, “she has a characteristic, clear timbre, warm vocation, shaped color, clear diction that are the basis of the value of the caliber of affirmed singers.”

“Liliana’s name remains in our song thanks to these characteristics. She does not want to remain ordinary in every interpretation of the songs. On the contrary, the experience of the notes with the text remains a preoccupation to sculpt to the maximum what they were and remain synonymous with our great singers such as Nexhmije Pagarusha, Vace Zela, Hafsa Zyberi, Naile Hoxha, Fitnete Rexha, Shpresa Gashi, Shahindere Bërlajolli, etc.”

Liliana’s childhood was not easy, as her father was constantly persecuted by the then regime.

“We had harmony when we were together—mother, father, and two brothers—but our comfort was ruined by the persecutions and imprisonment of my father,” Liliana confessed in interviews with Kosovo media.

“My career has made me happy, but when my daughter was born in 1972, it seemed to me that the whole world was mine,” Lili confessed about the time when she gave birth to Irena.

Irena, who lives in London, thinks that her mother Liliana has not fully developed her potential.

“I think he could have done more, and it hurts my heart that she hasn’t been singing for a long time. Now he has an even better voice, but he can’t make songs. Unfortunately, I did not become rich in exile so that I could help them achieve even more,” said Irena.

But, did a song or something else really remain hostage to Liliana?

“I really wanted to do classical music. I had all the predispositions to become an opera singer, but that’s not how it happened. I came to Kosovo, I started singing… I was drawn to entertainment, fun, pop music, I got a job… So I didn’t commit myself to fulfilling this desire, but I wish this to young talents. There are many of them who can really achieve. I would have told them not to go and sing in cafes but to save their voices, to get educated, that one day this segment will definitely work properly,” said Liliana Çavolli in an interview for Radio Kosovo.

Liliana Çavolli was born in 1942 and passed away in 2015.