Salvu Pace s-Sulari
There's humour and sarcasm within the Maltese language. The monikers they give to others often mean something totally the opposite of what they really are.
As a ten year old, Salvu used to spend time in the fields of Tal-Bajjad, nowadays the village of Santa Luċija, together with his shepherd friend tending goats. Here is where he practiced his first lines.
He grew up in the folk music environment, tailing his maternal uncle is Leli Azzopardi l-Bugazz to events all over Malta, but mostly at Lucy Casha's outlet in Il-Belt il-Ġdida, Ġolin Axisa Ta' Kostanza, Fredu Abela l-Bamboċċu's brother in Żabbar and at Karmena tal-Marsa, where Sunday late afternoon sessions were held as soon as the horseraces were over. This exposed him to Żeppi Meli ta' Sika, Pawlu Seychell l-Għannej and Salvu Darmanin Ir-Ruġel. The latter is his favourite folksinger, due to his lyrical content.
His early days as a folk singer were not remarkable. He recalls being invited to sing at Il-Qajjenza in Birżebbuġa at Il-Bies's shack but was over come by a terrible wave of stagefright. Older folk singers didn't give up on him and guitarist Fredu Grech l-Irixx (also from Tarxien) egged him on not to give up and give his gift a go. The next time, at il-Belt il-Gdida, at Fredu's bar, he fared well, accompanied by Żeppi Meli ta' Sika, Fredu Abela l-Bamboċċu and Ċikku Degiorgio tal-Fjuri.
Salvu has written four ballads, his favourite being one about the Christ. It is in sixty stanzas and he has performed it on Net Television as well as at the residence of Fredu Abela ż-Żejtuni. He also wrote a ballad in remembrance of Leli l-Bugazz, another one about a blind girl. His most favourite ballad is a story about a young boy mutilated to death by his own dogs, which was written by Pawlu Seychell l-Għannej.
In the 90's Pace organised various folk singing sessions at the Boċċi Club in Tarxien, which he himself ran. He used to gather around the best folk singers for improvised bouts, at times attracting a crowd of six hundred. Leli l-Bugazz used to record these sessions. At the height of his popularity, Pace was invited to sing regularly in most Gozitan villages, as well as at schools during summer recess. His most memorable night was when the theme was about a parrot, and this featured Pawlu Seychell l-Għannej and Ninu Galea l-Kalora.
Is-Sulari has also sung in Australia twice, in Sydney and Melbourne, on an invitation by Lorry Galea. On his first visit he was joined by Pawlu Seychell l-Għannejand Fredu Abela ż-Żejtuni. On the second visit he was accompanied by Mikiel Cutajar Is-Superstar.
Salvu's voice has graced the local folk scene for forty years. Nowadays, his voice has faltered and he is retired. He still yearns for the folk singing sessions, late nights with his għana friends, the banter and the improvisation.