Nexhmije Pagarusha

Nexhmije Pagarusha (born 7 May 1933) is a popular Albanian vocalist, musician and actress from Kosovo, often referred to as the queen of Albanian music. Pagarusha gained acclaim as a recording artist in Albania and neighbouring countries for her distinct soprano vocal range, which she displayed performing various Albanian folk songs during her career, which spanned 36 years, from 1948, in her debut in Radio Pristina, to 1984, in her final concert in Sarajevo. Her music style wasn't limited to Albanian music, as she performed rock, pop, funk, opera/classical, and many more.

Nexhmije Pagarusha was born in the small village of Pagarusha, near the town of Malishevë, in Kosovo. She finished the primary school in Malishevë and then went to Belgrade, where she attended three years in the school of music, in the solo canto section. She began her music career as a singer for Radio Pristina in 1948.

Her musical creative work lasted for almost 40 years, and due to the contrast in genres she performed in, it's not easy to limit Pagarusha as a specific type of singer. Her interpretations in folk music were exactly as perfect as her interpretations in the classic music, especially opera. Pagarusha is loved by the music critics and adored from the music admirers. She is called Bilbili i Kosovës (Nightingale of Kosovo), queen of Albanian music, Madam Butterfly, etc.

She gained great popularity not just in her own country but also in other European countries, such as Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria etc. She led several tours with the music ensemble Shota in these countries, and also in Israel. In Kosovo, she gained the title Këngëtare e shekullit (Singer of the century).

The song, Baresha (English: The Shepherdess), is one of her most popular songs. It was composed by her husband, Rexho Mulliqi and the text was written by Rifat Kukaj. Pagarusha played in many theatre stages and movies and also as an actress she won many prizes.

She ended her music career in 1984 after holding a huge concert in Sarajevo. In 2000 she sang a song called Për ty ("For you") in an Albanian TV show, after 16 years of absence. Now she works as a senior adviser for music on Radio Kosova and in Radio Blue Sky, both located in Pristina. She was awarded the "Honor of the Nation" award (Albanian: Nderi i Kombit) from Albanian president Bujar Nishani in November 2012.