After knowing Ramona for over 10 years, I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t know how well she sang. She’s not just good, she’s really good. When I was forwarded a clip of her new track ‘Don’t Worry About Me’, I was astounded at how brilliant she is and knew instantly that I wanted to speak to her about her talent.
When I met Ramona she was just as I remember – bubbly, chatty and awfully stylish. I ask her where she purchased her diamanté clad jeans from and was amazed to hear that she had customised them herself - she later told me her father was a tailor and her mother makes folkloric costumes, so it’s no surprise she has an eye for fashion and a unique style.
Before we start talking about anything interview-esque, Ramona whips out her phone and immediately beams about her new housemate. By housemate, she means her friend’s Sphynx cat she is currently looking after. “I’m not normally a cat person, but I just love her. I can’t wait to get home and play with her and feed her. She sits on my lap and purrs, she’s just so cute! Look…..” She coo’s and ahh’s whilst showing me picture after picture of her new friend. I’m also not a cat person, so I respond with pictures of my baby – as any overly proud mother would!
Once we’ve finished gossiping, we turn the conversation to Ramona’s musical journey.
Born in Cluj, the heart of Transylvania, Romania, Ramona Ciceoan was raised by a musical family, with both her parents being singers and dancers. “My parents were pretty lucky, even though we lived in a communist country with closed borders, they had the opportunity to travel through Europe with the folkloric organisation they were involved in. I also got to travel with them for short periods of time and I really gained an understanding of this type of lifestyle, how much joy it can bring to both the performers and public.” Ramona is very close to her family; you can tell by the admiration in her voice as she shares stories of her childhood. “I was lucky to have 2 sets of grandparents who lived in the countryside in Maramures and near Cluj Napoca, a village called Orman. My brother and I would spend every summer helping our grandparents with work and experiencing what I can only describe as the best childhood a child can have; being surrounded by love, good food, a healthy environment, animals, but also understanding the importance of hard work.”
Despite a background in folklore music and an understanding of country life and traditions, Ramona has always had a soft spot for pop music. “I remember going to the market with my father and asking him to buy me my first tape – it was Mariah Carey’s 1st album – Vision of Love. I was about 9 or 10 and I would sing along to every song over and over! After Mariah, I fell in love with Celine Dion and Whitney Houston – they are my 3 biggest idols!”
When Ramona was 17, she and her family released an album of folklore Christmas Carols, something she says she is grateful they managed to achieve as it was one of her father’s dreams. From here, Ramona continued with recording folklore music, but also started studying pop and soul as well as entering contests around Romania. “ I entered a contest “Rain of Start”, where you have to pretend to be a megastar. I was Jennifer Rush and sang Power of Love – I got as far as the semi-finals. I had family from all over travel to Bucharest to support me – that was a proud moment!”
In 2013, Ramona sadly lost her father. “I have to say I feel extremely blessed and grateful for having had such great parents who offered me and my brother the very best upbringing. They raised us with strong beliefs in common sense, modesty, honesty, respecting people and being thoughtful. I just thank GOD and the universe every day for having had such a good start in life and for the blessings I receive daily. My father was a well-known singer and a very loved and good person. He was a great spirit, always making people smile around him. We were left with a huge hole in our hearts when he passed away, however, we do have great memories, so we are very thankful for those. An experience like this opens your eyes and shows you that you only have this current moment.”
Moving to Jersey
Ramona never intended on leaving Romania, but shortly after her father’s passing, she decided she would like to work in Jersey for a year, before heading back and continuing with her musical journey. Apparently, life had different plans for her though, and 13 years later she now holds a British passport and considers Jersey her second home with her long term partner, Tony.
Ramona has always worked 2-3 jobs to ensure that one day she’ll be in the position to focus on her music. Whilst working in The Drift, Ramona was able to meet various people in the music industry, which helped her start her singing career on the island. Ramona recalls one particular charity event that had various singers who were rehearsing all day, and she wanted to know how to get involved. After approaching AJ Fells (a composer/ songwriter) she was given the opportunity to audition to become the lead singer in a local band, ZED.
“We played in various venues around Jersey, from pubs and hotels to wedding parties. After two years, myself and two other members, husband and wife duo - Steve and Caroline, started our own band, Skyline – I was the singer, Carrie was on saxophone and Stevie was on the keyboard. I feel blessed to have met them, they are the greatest friends and family I could ask for, we just had the most amazing times together.”
After 5 years of playing covers and their own songs around Jersey and Romania, Ramona decided to take a step back to focus on her solo career.
Ramona has recently formed a long term collaboration with a Romanian DJ, Victor Biliac and Eduard Serei to produce their own tracks under her stage name, Ramona C. “We have just finished our first song together, ‘Don’t Worry About Me’, and are currently working on our second song. I’m also in the process of creating the video for our first track, so I’m very excited about that! I have also just started a collaboration with Sax Show Orchestra by TzikaSax - we are organising parties from weddings and work do’s to concerts. They are a great team who I am very honoured to work with.”
Ramona has recently decided to take a break from her full-time job this year so she can concentrate on her music and spend some time soul searching. “I love travelling and reading and want to spend some time doing that as well as volunteering. I want to write down all the experiences I’ve had over the last 13 years and turn them into music. I’m very passionate about my heritage so I want to mix folkloric music with pop and various styles in order to make Romanian themes well-known across the globe. When it comes to music, I strongly believe there is beauty in each individual style, wherever there is soul, there can’t be fault.”
Don't Worry About Me - Ramona C (Prod. by Victor Biliac) can be found on Youtube