Recordings from the Estonian Folklore Archives 3

Kadri Kukk

Kadri Kukk in 1971. Photo by L. Briedis. ERA, Foto 9985.

The last carriers of the regilaul singing traditions in the once very rich region of Mulgimaa were the singers of Karksi Parish recorded in the 1960’s. Kadri Kukk (1893–1976) was an exceptional singer among all the regilaul singer left in the twentieth century. Her repertoire of regilaul was extremely large and she was constantly singing the songs in the creative manner typical of the carriers of oral traditions, even though the only place she sang was at home. She had learned her songs from her mother and grandmother while doing needlework. Kadri Kukk explained that her mother had taught her all the lessons of life through singing. The singer was born in the Sepatare cottage of Muriku farm in the village of Aniste. She was twice married and had ten children. Her first husband died in the war and her second husband was forced to leave at the time when the collective farms were being established. Kadri, too, refused to join the collective farm and ended up living alone in a small cottage far from any settled areas. In her later life she lived with her youngest son in the village of Sürgavere. The first regilaul were recorded from Kadri in 1921 but starting at the beginning of the 1960’s she was visited repeatedly and approximately 80 different songs were recorded from her. The collectors have described how completely she would be carried away by the contents of the songs. This can be heard in the recordings, despite the fact that her manner of performing the songs was shy and introspective in keeping with her natural temperament.