Saturday, 4 December 2010

Toše Proeski

Todor Toše Proeski (January 25, 1981 – October 16, 2007) was a Macedonian multi-genre singer, songwriter and actor. He was popular across the entire Balkan area and further north, and locally he was considered a top act of the Macedonian music scene. Toše was known for his strong vocal performances and trademark quote "Ve sakam site" (I Love You All).He died in a car crash in Croatia on October 16, 2007.

Toše was born in Prilep, at that time still part of Yugoslavia but now in Macedonia, where he spent most of his childhood. After his musical talent was discovered at the age of 12, he was chosen to perform at the popular children's song festival Zlatno Slavejče in Skopje. This was his first public music performance but his successful career began in 1996 when he participated in the teenage music festival Melfest in Prilep.

Following this public exposure, he was awarded for his strong vocal capabilities. This led to his rise to fame when he participated in the music festival Makfest in Štip with the song Pusti Me in 1997. His fanbase quickly grew and he continued to make use of festivals, such as SkopjeFest and OhridFest, as a platform for promotion and publicity. Toše collaborated with one of Macedonia’s acclaimed lyricists and composers, Grigor Koprov, to produce some of the greatest hits of his career. In 1999, he released his debut album, Nekade vo Nokta. In the summer of the same year, Toše Proeski performed his first solo concert in Skopje.

In 2000, Toše participated in Skopjefest,the Macedonian pre-selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. He sang Solzi Pravat Zlaten Prsten which won the televoting but finished 3rd overall, behind Karolina Gočeva and the winners XXL. During that period, he began recording the tracks for his second album, Sinot Božji. The album brought some great hits.

After spending his time in recording studios in Athens, Greece, Toše released his third album Ako Me Pogledneš Vo Oči in October 2002 in Macedonian and Serbian. After the release, Toše went on a tour throughout Macedonia doing intense promotion. He also went to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bulgaria for further promotion. Toše won Beovizija in Belgrade in 2003, with Čija Si, a song which became a huge hit in Macedonia and the other former republics. This song was due to represent Serbia and Montenegro in the Eurovision Song Contest 2003 but the EBU stated that too many countries wanted to enter in that year and so some would be forced to withdraw. Serbia and Montenegro (who participated as one country at the time) were one of them.

To improve his singing, Toše took classes in New York from maestro William Riley, who was also coach to famous tenor, Luciano Pavarotti. When he returned, Toše held humanitarian concerts throughout the Republic of Macedonia. He was awarded with the Mother Theresa Humanitarian Award and in 2003 he became a Regional UNICEF Ambassador.

In 2004, MKTV chose Toše Proeski to represent Macedonia at the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest in Istanbul, Turkey, and in February, he performed eight songs, where a jury, televoting, and his own opinion chose the song. The song Angel Si Ti was chosen by all three. In April, Toše released his album Den Za Nas, which featured the eight songs from the Eurovision selection in Macedonian.

In May, Toše finished 14th in the final with the song Life, which was the English version of Angel Si Ti. Prior to the contest he was popularised by reporters due to his tremendous opera singing ability, at his press conferences. All eight songs were recorded in English, but only the winning song of the national final Life was released. During the TV national final show, after each song was performed, a clip of the song was played in English to show viewers how it would sound if that song won the contest and was performed in English at the Eurovision Song Contest 2004 final.

In 2004 Toše Proeski was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and recorded the song This World which became the UNICEF anthem. Toše signed a contract with Dallas Records so his next album could be released in Croatia and Slovenia. To establish himself in these countries, Toše recorded Krajnje Vreme with Slovenian singer, Anja Rupel. In 2005, Toše’s fifth album Po Tebe was released throughout ex-Yugoslavia. Po Tebe is one of the most successful Balkan albums ever. It topped music charts for months in the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Božilak, was a compilation of 14 traditional Macedonian songs arranged by Sasa Nikolovski Gjumar, Ilija Pejovski and Soni Petrovski. Toše was backed up by a symphony orchestra on the album. His last album Igri Bez Granici was released all over ex-Yugoslavia in August, 2007.
Apart from songs in Macedonian, Croatian, Serbian, he also recorded one song in Slovene, Moja in 2007, and one in Italian, Aria, with Italian superstar Gianna Nannini. List of artist who collaborated with Proeski include Anja Rupel, Antonija Šola, Bora Čorba, Karolina Gočeva, Esma Redžepova, Gianna Nannini, Goca Tržan, Grigor Koprov, Jeff Beck, Tony Cetinski, Željko Joksimović and other notable musicians. Prior to his death, he was a student in his final year in the solo singing department of the Skopje Music Academy.

Toše also established himself as a songwriter. He wrote several hits for himself. In 2004 Toše composed Muza for Martin Vučić, the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest representative for the Republic of Macedonia. It became the title track for the young artist's second album. In interviews Toše Proeski stated that he had written over 100 songs but was waiting for the right moments to record them as they were still in demo form. On October 15, Proeski gave his final interview to the Macedonian Television Station Kanal 5. He talked about his intention to finish his Musical Academy studies, his search for his soul mate, and his new album in the works.
Toše's last concert was held on October 5, 2007 for the Primary Education Project for USAID. The concert raised tens of thousands of euros for the primary schools of Macedonia. The concert was attended by over 35,000 people and viewed all over the world.

During the early morning of October 16, 2007, at 6:20 a.m., Toše died in a car accident on the Zagreb–Lipovac highway near Nova Gradiška, Croatia. He was a passenger along with his manager Ljiljana Petrović in a Volkswagen Touareg driven by Georgij Georgijevski.
After his death, the government of the Republic of Macedonia, gave him the title Honorable citizen of Macedonia.

The government organized an official state funeral for Toše Proeski, which was held October 17, 2007 in his home town of Kruševo, including military honour ceremonies. The funeral, which was broadcast by the national Macedonian TV was attended by many domestic and foreign delegations. Also, the funeral was attended by many notable musicians from Republic of Macedonia and other countries, including: Karolina Gočeva, Kaliopi, Vlado Janevski, Lambe Alabakoski, Elena Risteska, Jovan Jovanov, Martin Vučić, Adrian Gaxha, Tijana Dapčević and her sister Tamara Todevska, Aki Rahimovski (the frontman of Parni valjak), Toni Cetinski, Ceca Ražnatović, Željko Joksimović and many others.

On the 5th October 2008, the anniversary of Toše's last concert before his death a tribute concert was held in Skopje. Over twenty singers from various Balkan countries performed. A documentary about the work of Toše Proeski was released on February 12, 2009 in cinemas all over former Yugoslavia. Another concert was held on January 24, 2010, a day before Toše's birthday.

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