Gypsy Soul - A Thousand Year's Journey

By Samir Shukla

The Romani or Roma people, more commonly known as Gypsies, traveled out of India and headed westward several centuries ago. A study released in 2012, as reported by the New York Times, confirmed that the Roma came from a single group that left northwestern India about 1,500 years ago. “Some genetic studies have also pointed to India before, but it was not clear what part of India," said an author of the study, David Comas, an evolutionary biologist at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. He and other colleagues reported their findings in a 2012 issue of Current Biology.

These Indian travelers blended with local cultures and created their own unique languages, sub-cultures and music.

Now, Charlotte-based musician Vadim Kolpakov and his VS Guitar Duo have assembled musicians and dancers to take the audience along a Romani (“Gypsy") Trail in the two-night performances of Gypsy Soul – A Thousand Year's Journey. The show will feature an international cast of musicians, vocalists and dancers, telling the fascinating stories of the Romani people and their remarkable migration from India to Europe. It's an intriguing cultural journey.

VS Guitar Duo consists of seven-string guitarist Vadim Kolpakov and his nephew Sasha Kolpakov. These two musicians continue the tradition of the famous Kolpakov family's Russian-Gypsy artistic dynasty, which is already in the third generation. The duo unite music from different parts of the world with melodies and dances that originated centuries ago in the Romani camps of Russia and Europe along with Jazz, Latin, and Spanish Flamenco.

Other performers will include multi-instrumentalist and Indian-American Oliver Rajamani from Austin, TX who has created a sound he calls “flamenco India." Brazilian bassist Nelson Rios, dancer Marina Shanefelter, accordion player Sergio Popa, and singer Carina La Dulce are also slated to perform.

Kolpakov said, “The show is about music from Romani traditions of different countries, starting from India and then moving to Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Europe." He said there will be surprises and visual elements in the shows.

Produced and co-created by Blumenthal Performing Arts and VS Guitar Duo, Gypsy Soul – A Thousand Year's Journey was created in Charlotte.

Gypsy Soul: A Thousand Year's Journey will perform on January 25 - 26, 2019 at Booth Playhouse, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. For more details, visit


Samir Shukla is the editor of Saathee magazine. Contact -