In the 1960’s, the “Čikāgas piecīši” songs arrived in Latvia on tape recordings, which Latvians, ignoring the surveillance of Soviet citizens’ mail from foreign countries and State Security Committee controls, secretly listened to, among trusted friends or relatives. The Piecīši at that time played the music of Latvians in exile, which was banned at the time – it spoke of a world completely different from the one existing in Latvia, which one couldn’t find out about or get to know. In simple and popular melodies it spoke of the hopes and the dreams, which unite people everywhere, no matter where they may be or how they were living.
The “Čikāgas piecīši” consider 1961 to be the ensemble’s founding date, when Modris Avotiņš, Uldis Ievāns, Alberts Legzdiņš and Jānis Rinkušs, who were united by a common interest in music and a healthy sense of humour, met each other at a Chicago Latvian Youth event. After a short time the group became the travelling musical envoy of America’s Latvian youth in both America and Canada. Invitations soon followed to play at Latvian centres in Australia, South America and Europe as well. Over time the ensemble’s line up changed, and was supplemented by Janīna Ankipāns, Armands Birkens, Uldis Streips, Lorija Vuda and Alnis Cers.
The Čikāgas piecīši consider 1989 to be the happiest and most fortunate time in their musical careers, when the vocal instrumental group played concerts for the first time in Latvia at the Mežaparks Open Air-Stage and tens of thousands came to listen to them.
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