Leli Ellul Il-Beġiġ

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Leli Ellul Il-Beġiġ

Leli Ellul Il-Beġiġ (r), with doyen folk singer Fredu Abela ż-Żejtuni

is a a folk singer of improvised verse, born on the 21st December 1963. He hails from Sliema, and is currently it's representative in Maltese folk music.

Ellul became infatuated with għana in 2003, through quite extraordinary circumstances, having heard several cassette recordings of Fredu Abela ż-Żejtuni, Karmnu Fenech Il-Ħandrolla, Mikiel Cutajar Is-Superstar and Ċikku Degiorgio tal-Fjuri at the residence of a Maltese émigré in Woolwich, London.

Il-Ħandrolla's constant analogies, linked to the subject being sung about, have bore an influence on him. Hence, one of Ellul's improvised quatrains ran as:

           Id-dilettant tqanqila jistenna
           Bħal art xotta l-ħniena mis-sema
           Loret int għannej ta' fama
           Jien mhux minn dawk li nħobb nintrema' 

Ellul began frequenting the folk events that were held at the Sa Maison Boċċi Club, and began folk singing only due to a personal challenge with himself.

Leli Ellul Il-Beġiġ folksinging in Żejtun.

He had just finished a meal with friends when there was a spontaneous decision to have a singing bout. Names were being prompted and he was bypassed, until he opted to pit himself with Frans Mifsud ta' Vestru, Mario Gravina s-Sipa and Mario Xuereb ta' Gerald.

Ellul is keen on the botta u risposta style of improvised verse, rather than tame verses, since this is what keeps the listeners on tenterhooks, eager to relieve the suspense unfolding in this battle of wits.

He also prefers to listen to improvised verse than to folk ballads. For him għana is the expression of emotions, tqanqil, sung on the code of gentlemanly conduct, which the Maltese term as irġulija. Ellul has even stressed this in his folk singing, when he addressed a fellow folk singer with this stanza:

            La tlabtni se nispjegalek
            Ħabib, lili b'serjeta' ħudni
            It-tlett punti tal-irġulija:
            Prinċipju, kelma u attitudni. 
Fredu Desira l-Indjan with Leli Ellul Il-Beġiġ and Joe Vella l-Bokser in Żejtun, 16 August 2013.

Now that Ellul has been doused with the spirit of għana, and is enthusiastic about its current revival and surge in popular interest, one expects frequent presentations poignant with lyrical wit and intensity from the Sliema folk singer, to help establish him in the circuit of active performers.

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