Hey there music lover! Have you ever listened to a Bebe Rexha song and wondered about her cultural roots? If so, you’re in the right place, because we’re going to dive deep into the talented singer-songwriter’s Albanian ethnicity and upbringing.
In short – yes, Bebe Rexha is ethnically Albanian. Her parents immigrated to the US from the Republic of Macedonia, and she was born Bleta Rexha in Brooklyn in 1989.
From her birth name to her tight-knit family, Rexha‘s heritage has shaped her into the creative force she is today. Join me as we explore her background, career, controversies and more. Let’s rediscover this pop star through the lens of her cross-cultural influences.
Tracing Bebe Rexha’s Albanian Lineage
Rexha’s Albanian connections run long and deep. Born to immigrant parents Bukurije and Flamur Rexha originally from the Macedonian town of Debar, she grew up embracing her ethnic roots.
In fact, her first name Bleta means “bumble bee” in Albanian – a nod to her heritage and an early sign of the buzzworthy artist she would become!
Debar, located on the Albanian border, has a majority ethnic Albanian population that Rexha’s parents hail from. They immigrated to the US in the 1980s looking for better opportunities while keeping their traditions alive at home.
Rexha still visits family in the region regularly and speaks fondly of annual summer trips to Macedonia as a child. “My dad would take us back every year…just kind of go back to your roots,” she told CBS Sunday Morning.
Albanian Culture and Traditions Shape Rexha’s Upbringing
Growing up in a tight-knit immigrant family, Rexha was immersed in Albanian culture and customs from a young age.
Her parents raised her with a blend of American and Balkan traditions. “My house was very Albanian…the food, the music, the language,” she told Harper‘s Bazaar.
Albanian hospitality and food played a central role in her upbringing. “When you go to an Albanian person‘s house, they give you food right away. My mom‘s a great cook and always had something on the stove,” Rexha recalled.
Beyond cuisine, she inherited a love of music from her family. Singing and playing instruments are ingrained Albanian traditions. “Music is so embedded in Albanian culture. My dad played the guitar, my mom sang, my brother became a DJ,” she explained.
Rexha Proudly Embraces Her Dual Identity
While born in New York, Rexha holds dual US-Macedonian citizenship and views both her American and Albanian heritage as core parts of her identity.
In 2016, she officially became a citizen of Macedonia where over a quarter of the population is ethnic Albanian. “I just got my Macedonian passport!! So happy!!” she tweeted excitedly at the time.
“I‘m very proud of my Albanian culture…we are one blood, one people,” Rexha told KultPlus magazine. She even has a small Albanian flag tattoo!
This blended cultural background infuses every aspect of Rexha’s life and music, making her the boundary-breaking artist she is today.
Digging Into Bebe‘s Multi-Talented Career
Rexha’s prolific career speaks for itself – she’s a true quadruple threat as a singer, songwriter, producer and influencer with real star power. Let’s look at some key stats:
3 million Instagram followers and growing
2 Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Country Duo/Group Performance
Over $200 million in worldwide song sales
#1 Billboard Hot 100 hit as featured on G-Eazy’s “Me, Myself & I”
|Album||Release Date||Key Singles|
|Expectations||June 2018||"I Got You", "Meant to Be", "I‘m a Mess"|
|Better Mistakes||May 2021||"Baby, I‘m Jealous", "Sacrifice", "Die for a Man"|
But beyond the numbers, Rexha’s artistry and vision stand out. She writes of raw emotions like jealousy and insecurity with refreshing honesty.
And as a songwriter, she’s penned major hits for Rihanna, Selena Gomez, and Nicki Minaj – over $50 million worth!
“I’m really grateful for all that I have. I’m living my dream,” Rexha told Vogue Romania. No doubt her determination stems from her immigrant background.
Albanian Influences Weave Through Rexha‘s Music
From her breakout 2015 hit “I Can’t Stop Drinking About You” to 2022’s “I’m Good (Blue)”, Rexha’s Albanian roots subtly influence her sound.
The traditional instrumentation and romantic lyrics of Albanian folk music emerge in the drama and vibrato of her powerful voice. She describes her musical style as like "an Albanian R&B goddess."
Rexha also plans to record songs in the Albanian language soon. “I want to do a song in Albanian, which I’m so excited about…my dad keeps pushing me,” she told Clash Music.
This would be following in the footsteps of fellow Albanian-American singer Dua Lipa who has released Albabian songs to much fanfare.
By honoring her mother tongue, Rexha is keeping her heritage alive through music. Ultimately, her background gives her work a unique flavor.
Controversies and Challenges: Bebe‘s Bumpy 2023
Despite her many successes, Rexha‘s had a few bumps in the road recently. Let‘s unpack some of the controversies she‘s faced this year.
In March, an audience member hurled a cell phone at Rexha during a Tampa, Florida concert leading to a concussion. The attacker was arrested and Rexha later said she hoped the person "gets the help they need".
Then in July, online accusations of Rexha “blackfishing” emerged when fans noted similarities between her skin tone and Doja Cat‘s tan at Paris Fashion Week.
Rexha firmly denied altering her appearance, posting "I am Albanian. I tan easily. I‘ve never done anything to my skin” on Instagram.
Though unfair, these incidents show the harsh spotlight celebs face today. Hopefully Rexha‘s humor and honesty will prevail through it all.
Rexha’s Impact Reaches Far and Wide
With her unfiltered lyrics and energetic sound, Rexha has made an undeniable impact on 21st century pop. She’s a role model for young Albanians worldwide.
“Bebe Rexha has put Albanian music on the global map,” notes Albanian journalist Arben Dervishaj. She even served as a judge on the Albanian version of The Voice.
Rexha is proud to represent her little-known homeland. “There’s not a lot of Albanian artists out there. If I can help put Albanians on the map, I’ll do it,” she told KultPlus.
Beyond music, she uses her platform to support the LGBTQ+ community and speak out on mental health. Rexha shows how diversity breeds creativity.
The Meaning Behind Bebe‘s Moniker
By now you’re probably wondering – how did Bleta become Bebe? The singer revealed that her producer came up with the name “Bebe” as her career was taking off in 2013.
The trendy moniker reflects her fun, youthful image. “He was like, ‘We have to think of an artist name for you.’ And he was like, ‘Bebe!’” she told Vogue Australia.
But she’ll always be Bleta at heart. Rexha explains “It’s funny, my family still calls me Bleta…that’s my real name.” Her origins remain grounded despite her meteoric rise.
Conclusion: Bebe Rexha‘s Albanian Roots Make Her Who She Is
After learning about her family’s immigration story and artistic passions, it’s clear Bebe Rexha’s career is rooted in her Albanian heritage.
From her birth name to her love of food and music, her ethnicity colors every aspect of Rexha’s life. She blends hard work and ambition with Balkan traditions.
Sure, she’s faced ups and downs lately. But Rexha handles it all with honesty and humor, showing her grit. Most importantly, she lifts up other Albanians and makes them proud.
So next time you hear a Rexha hit, listen closely and you might just hear subtle Eastern European influences. Her background makes Bebe an undeniably original talent. Thanks for letting me share more about this fascinating pop star!