Żeppi Ellul ta' Fellusu
Żeppi Ellul ta' Fellusu
, also known as Iż-Żebbuġi is a noted and highly-respected folk singer from Żebbuġ, Malta. He was born on the 6th February 1945 to Żaru l-Koppi and Karmena ta' Fellusa.
Although his father is from Kirkop, Żeppi was born and bred in Żebbug and thus has taken the nickname of his mother’s family. His day time occupation is that of a master builder, which he emphasises is different from that of a bricklayer. Born in a family of nine boys and two girls, he has another brother Żaren Ellul ta' Fellusu, who also folk sings. His mother Karmena folk sang l-għana tal-banju.
He was brought up in an għana environment through his father Żaru, who from the age of five, took him to the annual folk feast of Imnarja on the 28th June in the small wood of Buskett to listen to the likes of Pawlu Seychell l-Għannej, Żeppi Buttigieg In-Najs and Mikiel Abela l-Bambinu. He recalls that during his time the government elementary school, when he was still a seven year-old, his teacher used to ask him to folk sing in class, standing behind his wooden desk.
His first improvised verse bout with the established folksingers was in April 1968, when he was paired with Leli Mifsud Is-Surġent, at Karmni Aguis ta’ Wistin’s wine shop in Marsa. The other folksingers in the bout were Pawlu Seychell l-Għannej and Ninu Galea l-Kalora. At 23, Ellul was chosen to be in Ninu Galea l-Kalora’s group of folksingers that were recorded for the Rediffusion programme broadcasted on Sunday mornings.
Towards the end of the millenium he folk sang at Ġużeppi ż-Żibġi’s Friend’s Bar in Siġġiewi together with Ninu Camilleri l-Qannebusu, a quarry operator, in one of the latter’s few public performances, before he abruptly withdrew from the scene. This was a pity since Il-Qannebusu was already considered as being a very worthy folksinger with a lifetime of sessions before him.
Ellul has written and folk sung four ballads, three of which, namely ‘’It-Tfajla Żebbuġija’’, ‘’It-Tifel Maħruq minn Ommu’’ and ‘’Il-Kaċċatur u l-Bidwija’’ are from the sub-genre ‘’fatt fittizju’’, a fictitious story. One is however based on a true story, entitled ‘’Outsider’’, recalling a horse that raced on the outer perimiter racecourse in Marsa and on asphalted streets. One ballad was performed during Għanafest 2010.
He has partecipated in two folk music events overseas, one in Paola in the province of Cosenza, Calabria in Italy, where he sang with Kalċidon Vella Id-Danny and another time in Benghasi, Libya, through an initiative of folklorist Ġorġ Mifsud Chircop.
Żeppi has also folk sang in twenty-minute bout of improvised verse with Frans Baldacchino il-Budaj at the University of Malta, when the chosen subject was ‘’It-Tfajla Maltija’’ (The Maltese Girl).
Ellul is one of the few active folk singers who has folk sang with the great folksingers of the 1960s and 1970s and has maintained his popularity with the avid listeners of ‘’għana’’. He has had several invites to folk sing for Maltese communities in Australia.