Fredu Desira l-Indjan

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Fredu Desira l-Indjan

Fredu Desira l-Indjan.

is an improvised verse folk singer. He was born on the 13th September 1950 and hails from Żejtun. His father is Salvu Desira ta' Wenċ, who in time was a high-pitched folk singer.

As a nine year old his uncles, farmers and livestock breeders, were already taking him to folk singing happenings at Menu Abela’s wine shop in Żejtun and Mikiel Abela l-Bambinu's shack at Il-Qajjenza. There he was exposed to the improvised verse of Pawlu Seychell l-Għannej, Żaren Mifsud ta' Vestru, Salvu Darmanin Ir-Ruġel and Leli Sultana l-Moni.

He recalls that from the age of twelve he began spending time with his relatives at Imnarja folk feast in Buskett for the whole night, recalling that after the staged event was over, the folksingers separated in their own groups and folksang and made merry the whole night under the trees.

Rather than listening to them on open reels in wine bars, he sapped the live atmosphere with all its aura. Around 1969 he made his folksinging debut at St. Paul’s Bar on the Marsa Bridge, in an area known as ta' fuq il-pont, when he folksang with Fredu Abela Iż-Żejtuni, purely by conincidence when Pawlu Seychell l-Għannej did not show up.

Fredu Desira l-Indjan with Leli Ellul Il-Beġiġ and Joe Vella l-Bokser in Żejtun, 16 August 2013.

Desira then took to regularly show up at the Ta' Ġanna Bar in Żejtun, at the time a hotpot of għana attracting esteemed folksingers including Żaren Mifsud ta' Vestru, Żeppi Meli ta' Sika and Leli Sultana l-Moni, and folk guitarist Grezzju Ellul ta' Ċanċa.

Fredu had a special affection for Pawlu Seychell l-Għannej, a family friend and today he shares the same feelings towards Mikiel Cutajar Is-Superstar. The latter’s two folk ballads on Dom Mintoff and Joseph Muscat are amongst his favourites, together with Żaren Mifsud ta' Vestru’s Ġużeppi u Marija. He however, is not keen on folk ballads sung on the scale of A minor.

Desira has visited Australia three times, in 2003, 2006 and 2012, where he had six-months sojourns. Considering Melbourne as one of his favourite cities, he has folksung in the Għannejja Klabb, Ir-Rampa and Albion Club in Melbourne and has travelled up to the Melita and Ħamrun Clubs in Sydney to partecipate in Maltese nights through his improvised verse.

In Australia he has folk sung with Leli tal-Pitrolju, Żaren Attard Il-Bukkaċċ, Salvu Galea tal-Kalora, Fredu Cachia l-Fra, Ġużeppi Azzopardi Ras Il-Bagħal, Michael Magrin Iż-Żabbari, Fredu Cassar ta' Bakkar Omxot and Żeppi Fenech Il-Kaħla, some of them now deceased.

Fredu Desira l-Indjan folk singing in Żejtun, August 2013.

Desira fears that with the demise of the existing folksingers in Australia, għana faces a bleak future in its current form with the Maltese communities, considering that the second or third generation Maltese-Australians first language is understandably English.

Desira has also partecipated in the annual Għanafest festival held in Argotti Gardens. He has a distinctive accent, probably delineating the Żejtun neighbourhood he grew up in, which merits further attention. Currently he is very active in the għana scene and folksings weekly in Żejtun and elsewhere.

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