It appears that, when I stumbled across the Bulgarian singer, Emilia Markova’s appearance on the same TV stage as The Flirtations, I might have invented a ‘truth’ that never was and I suppose that I should have been a little more inquisitive at the time as to why a show on Bulgarian TV would have had a set with a programme title not in Cyrillic script. The TV show in question was ‘Hits à Gogo’ and I have only just discovered (quite by chance) over this past few days that we were looking at a TV show from a studio not in Sofia, but rather in Zürich, so it wasn’t what Bulgarian TV looked like in 1971 after all. It also serves to illustrate further that artists from the Eastern Bloc did manage, at times, to make appearances on TV outside of the Bloc.
To refresh memories here is that song Emilia performed (‘Пролет в Девня’ – ‘Prolyet v Devnja’ – ‘Spring In Devnja’) that was a sort of ‘mash up’ of Balkan Folk Music together with a very Soul-like rhythm.
She also performed another number, (‘Песен за трите желания’ – ‘Pesyen za tritye zhelanya’ – ‘Song Of The Three Wishes’), which was a rather more rambling affair with slow passages interspersed with uptempo ones, at the end of which we spot very briefly in the background The Flirtations about to take to the stage.
All this raises a very interesting question. What was a Bulgarian artist who did not obviously have all that many releases to her name, let alone actual hits, doing appearing on Swiss TV, singing her songs in Bulgarian, on a show associated with such top artists as David Bowie and Elton John? I can only assume that The Flirtations, when they appeared at the Golden Orpheus Festival in the seaside resort of Varna (Devnja, interestingly enough, is somewhere in its vicinity) must have spotted Emilia performing one or both of the aforementioned songs and, when they went on to appear on Swiss TV, they must have used that as an opportunity to get her some exposure in the West. Basically, it was a sort of 1971 answer to one of those YouTube ‘you-gotta-hear-this’ moments.
At any rate, I’m sure Emilia must have been thinking to herself, “what am I doing here???”