Damian Drăghici

Damian Drăghici, born in Bucharest, Romania, 1970, to a Roma family that had nurtured musical talent for seven generations, is a virtuoso musician particularly associated with the Romanian Pan pipes (nai, pan flute), one of the most noted exponent of his particular instrument in the world, has focused new international attention on the ancient Romanian pan flute.

He started playing at age of 3. By the age of 12 he started performing in restaurants and clubs and defying clichés - from the age of 12 till 18 he won 5 times the first prize of the National Festival of Romania. By the age of 14, Damian had performed the European classical works of Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach on national television. The musician became known for his impressive technique on the pan flute, and Romanians nicknamed him "the Speed of Light" because of his ability to play complex, challenging music at fast tempos. At 18, he clandestinely crossed the border with Yugoslavia and get to Greece. There, he busked in the streets before landing a nightclub gig playing keyboards. In 1996 he auditioned for faculty members visiting Athens from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Damian Draghici - Beyond the Black Sea

Berklee offered Drăghici a full scholarship. Following the granting of a visa for the United States, he began to study under George Garzone. After only a short time in America, he has become recognized for his outstanding ability and talent. Following graduation from college with a Magna Cum Laude majoring in Jazz Performance he relocated to Los Angeles and is currently working with major Hollywood composers. In 2004, Drăghici joined as one of the headliners, James Brown, Joe Cocker, reggae star Shaggy, Cyndi Lauper, Zucherro, Gypsy Kings, Roger Hodgson (Supertramp) and The Pointer Sisters for one of Europe's most esteemed musical events the Night of the Proms tour.

Damian & Brothers

Back in Romania, Damian Drăghici had an ideal biography to become a national hero: he opposed the communist regime; escaped the country without a dollar in his pocket and worked hard his path to the stars; started as just another poor Roma musician and ended as the great Romanian prodigy. In November 2001 he made a big return to his native country. With a 150-piece orchestra he played in front of 72,000 people at the notorious Civic Center in Bucharest. A strong symbolism: the grand boulevard that Ceauşescu modeled on the Champs-Élysées as a monument to his rule was for the first time in its history used to its full potential by – in a way - the most successful opponent to the very same regime.

Damian Draghici - Unreach

In 2006 Drăghici decided to come back to his roots, by putting the bases of a new group with “his gypsy brothers” as he likes to called them. One of the purposes of “Damian & Brothers, Filarmonika Rromanes” is to change the international perception and the stereotypes over Roma (Gypsy) minority through their music. The impact and the huge popularity achieved until now are a confirmation of their common effort.

He still lives in California and often visits Bucharest. Damian won a Grammy, in 2007 he released his 18th album. The official recognition of Drăghici’s efforts and dedication to promoting Roma minority came on 20th of March 2007 when he was designated by the President of Romania, as Romania’s Ambassador for the Roma minority in the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All and in 2008 as the Ambassador for European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

Filarmonika Romanes - Saraiman

His recordings - many of which are instrumental, although he sometimes features vocalists - could be described as world music, but he certainly doesn't limit himself to any one style of it. Damian, a gypsy, is unpredictable, and the musician has been influenced by rock, pop, jazz, new age, and classical as well as Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Latin music (especially Spanish flamenco, although he has also acknowledged Afro-Cuban salsa and South American/Andean music).


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