Kadoi (Yekaterina) Aleksandrova

Kadoi Aleksandrova was born in 1902 and, as she married a man from her home village, lived all her life in the village of Voloitsa (Valyanitsy), on the Soikino peninsula. The only time she spent away from home was in 1944–1952. Already as a child she started working around the house. Like all other people on the coast of Soikino, she used to attend winter fishing trips.

Kadoi learned songs from her mother. In her childhood, Ingrian folk songs could be heard mostly in weddings, where next to wedding songs people used to sing Kalevala-metric ballads while dancing in circle. Ingrians also knew Russian chastushka-like four-lined verses with end rhyme that they had heard through the mediation of Finns. Ingrian songs were sometimes also sung in the evenings, at the gatherings of young people, although in Kadoi’s youth the repertoire sung at these events was already largely in Russian.

According to the folklore collector Arvo Laanest, he knew from the very first meeting that Kadoi Aleksandrova far surpassed all the older folk singers in the villages around Soikino, both in the scope of her repertoire and the completeness of the texts. The collection of Ingrian songs, published in 1974 in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), contains nearly 2,000 lines of Kadoi’s songs, but this does not even remotely encompass her entire repertoire. Some of Kadoi’s songs were published in a selection of Finno-Ugric folk songs in the Loomingu Raamatukogu series and two wedding songs and several epic songs performed by her were included on the LP of Votian and Ingrian folk songs. The publication of Kadoi’s songs inspired Veljo Tormis to compose a cycle of choir songs titled The Ingrian Epic, of which a good share was collected from Kadoi Aleksandrova.

Laanest 1982.


Ingrian singer Kadoi Aleksandrova among folklore collectors. Photo: M. Jallai, 1976 (ERA, Foto 11399).