Lili Ivanova(+ Лили Иванова)

Bookmark and Share


24 April 1939.

Lili Ivanova Petrova was born in the town of Kubrat (Кубрат) and named after her deceased older sister Liliana who died of scarlet fever. It was a musical family and when Lili is 7 she gets an accordion. Too poor to take lessons however she teaches herself to play it. Later a piano also is bought. She goes to study at the medical professional school in Varna in 1956 where she sings in local contest. After graduation she starts working as a a nurse in her hometown but keeps on singing. At a local festival she sings ‘Камино’ and a then husband decides to make a demo of it. In 1961 she was approved to audition before the music agency of that time, called Konzertna Direktsia (Concert Directorate) in Sofia, that organised her first foreign tour abroad, in Rumania, together with other eminent Bulgarian pop-singers Emil Dimitrov, Irina Chmihova and Maria Koseva.

In 1963, she took part in shows at Ambassador Hotel and the Constantin Tanase Music Hall Theatre in Bucharest. Her  performance was broadcast live on the national television of Rumania and opened the door for a first album recorded for Electrecord. Inspired by her idol Rita Pavone she wants to record popular music but an official ordinance requiring singers to sing in Bulgarian only makes this somewhat difficult. A team of writers springs to the rescue and ‘Витоша’ (Vitosha) written by Mihail Manolov is the first of Bulgarian popsongs written for her. ‘Subota vecher’ (Saturday Night) written by Dimitur Vassilev and Yosiff Tsankov became her first big hit. Touring in 1964 she divorces and marries her pianist Ivan Peev. In 1966 she gets international success when she joins a songcontest in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia and wins the Golden Key. Her next album ‘More na Mladostta’ (Sea of Youth) was published by Balkanton in 1967. Her success spreads throughout the soviet countries during the start of the seventies. Another divorce and a remarriage to Yancho Takov, son of party functionary, brings trouble however when she divorces him in 1975. State officials make it difficult for her to perform and record. In 1978 she teams with a singer she sung and toured with regurlarly in the sixties, Assen Gargov, for a duet album. Her career stays difficult however until she is invited in 1985 by German theaterdirector Volkmar Neumann to perform in Berlin at the "Friedrichstadtpalast”. With a mix of material she starts a second career in the DDR.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain democratic changes cause the Bulgaria Concert Directorate to cease to exist, and therefore no longer provides any commitments of the performers, as it was before. Lili Ivanova continues to work primarily on private contributions and parties with a group of musicians. After the economical crisis of 1996, she even could no longer afford a band. Additional problem was that with the fall of the old regime the system of revenues was lost depriving artists of any royalties they might have been entitled to. It takes a long legal route for Lili to get her money and rights back in 2008. Meanhwile in the nineties she is forced to do small room concerts with a tape slowly climbing back into popularity. In 1998, Lili received the highest award of Sv. Nikolai Chudotvorets (St Nicholas the Miracle Worker) Foundation for contributing to goodness in the world. In 1999, President Peter Stoyanov awarded Lili Ivanova with the Golden Range order for contribution to the Bulgarian pop music. In 2002 she is featured in the first Bulgarian Playboy. In 2009 she performs in a sold out Olympia in Paris. She also gets a reallife soap "dangerously close - Lili Ivanova" and she releases her autobiography ‘Истината’ (The Truth). In 2010 a new album is released.

On the web:

- Lili's website: http://www.lili.bg

If you like this, you probably like... / european counterparts:

Gélu (Spain)

Rita Pavone (Italy)

What do we think:

DB: Queen of the Bulgarian Beat (if there is such a thing) Lili finest hours were at the start of her career. Her sixties albums are swinging as well as daring because she records original material rather then playing covers. Getting into a love affair with someone connected to the Party turned out to be a mistake though. Musically things did not get any better but you'll have to give it to Lili that she clawed her way back up over the Eighties and Nineties. She is now considered an icon of Bulgarian pop. And the one responsible for her art work since 1975 should be imprisoned for delivering awful designs..


- Recital - 1963

♪♪♪ - Ulichkata Malka(The Little Street) - 1967

More na Mladostta(The Sea of Youth) - 1968

♪♪♪♪ - Tozi Sviat E Tui Prekrasen(This World Is So Wonderful) - 1969

♪♪♪ - Camino - 1970

Obicham te - 1972

Vechnost(Eternity) - 1973

Tango - 1975

Stari Moy Priatelyu(My Dear Old Friend)- 1976

Gulubut(The Dove) - 1977

Zhivotut Ni Subira, Zhivotut Ni Razdelya (Life Unites Us, Life Sets Us Apart) (with Assen Gargov) - 1978

My town - 1979

Preduprezhdenie(Warning) - 1981

Shturche(A Cricket) - 1982

Surtseto Te Izbra(The Heart Chose You) (with Assen Gargov) - 1983

Iskam te - 1984

Ti Me Povika(You Called Me) - 1987

Tezhka Svatba(Heavy Wedding) - 1989

Hazart(Gambling) - 1993

Gotovi Li Ste Za Lyubov?(Are You Ready For Love?) - 1995

Chasten Sluchay(A Special Case) - 1998

Vetrove(Winds) - 2000

Ilyuzia Narechena Lyubov(An Illusion Called Love) - 2003

Au Nom De La Foi – 2010

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


Like us on
Your newsletter
Do you want to receive our monthly newsletter? Just tick in your e-mail adress below and stay in touch.

You will receive an e-mail message (sorry, in Dutch) that you have to confirm.

  EUROPOPMUSIC - Central Europe