Issue 4, 2015. August-September



Aurelia Shrenker

I came across one morning when I got an e-mail from Aurelia Shrenker, who created the site as part of a five-year project to document the songs and stories of ordinary Georgian people. The site provides links to stories and songs performed by singers across Georgia. These recordings are connected to a map of the country.

The site is an escape to the old and myth-like land of rural Georgia where luck and misfortune walk hand in hand. The songs are in Georgian and in five other languages (Bats, Udi, Chechen, Svan, and Megrelian), along with translations of the lyrics in English.

"Tsutisopeli" (which translates as"little village") is not just a collection of Georgian songs, but rather a union of forgotten cultures.They say nostalgia is just a prolonged sadness. But reconnects us with our heritage that is still alive. "You never feel like you have enough time, and you often feel like you've arrived too late," Aurelia said.

Saba Gvetadze

A Passport to a Different Land

I was 10 when I fell in love with Georgian folklore. I used to attend Sunday school and learn simple folk songs. I listened to the only mix-tape of many Georgian bedtime songs I had for hours. And then I would dream about wandering through the humble cottages and battling with the giants.

Around that time, young Aurelia arrived in Georgia at the Village Harmony summer camp and fell in love with the same music. She spread her love of Georgian folk music among her family. Both of her younger siblings learned to sing Georgian songs with her playing panduri (a three-stringed Georgian lute).

Mariam Gogochuri

Perhaps it's the lifelike simplicity of Georgian folk songs that fascinated us both when we were children. Perhaps it's the mystical, unearthly world that those songs describe...

Aurelia became fascinated by the isolated areas of Georgia during her studies at UCLA, with their wild landscapes where peasant traditions are still alive. While studying ethnomusicology she decided to teach herself ballads from eastern Georgia, because they were songs she could sing by herself, while other Georgian songs are mostly polyphonic. In 2011, Aurelia received a Fulbright Award from the Institute of International Education's Fulbright Program, which enabled her to work on the project.

She spent next four years in researching, hiking, finding and recording songs.

Omar Tsereteli

Collecting songs and stories was not the easiest objective for the English-speaking team. And they tried to collect as much as possible since the musicians are getting older: five of the recorded musicians of the project have passed away in the last several years. "You never feel like you have enough time, and you often feel like you've arrived too late," Aurelia said.

Tsutisopeli aims to preserve and reconnect with our world's heritages that are still alive before they also pass. If she finds sufficient funding, Aurelia would love to continue putting unknown singers and their stories on a map. However, their songs were just one of the many things Georgians shared." They took us to visit their family members' graves; they told us stories of lost children and war; they walked with us to their places of prayer, including us in their rituals; they mended our torn shirts and taught us to make bread in their clay ovens; they fed us day after day, everything that they had, never asking anything in return.

They gave us the gift of their world - a gift that was never intended just for us, but rather to be shared with you," Aurelia said.

For more information about the project, please visit