Mónika Lakatos was born in Budapest to an Olah Gypsy family. She was taught to sing by her father and aunties in her community. In 1996 she was the first ever Romani singer to win the most popular national Hungarian talent show – to which she was enrolled in without her knowledge.
After performing with various bands, Mónika and her husband Mihály “Mazsi” Rostás founded Romengo, playing original songs rooted in Olah Gypsy musical tradition. This world music band toured all around Europe and performed in eight South-American and Asian countries as well – amongst many others, they played the Berlin Philharmonic and the Frankfurt Opera. Both of Romengo’s albums were featured on World Music Charts Europe’s top 10 list, as was Mónika’s first solo album, Romanimo (2017). On Romanimo Mónika sings slow, heartbreaking hallagto songs of Romani-Hungarian musical tradition. The album was selected for World Music Charts Europe’s top 5. In 2018 she founded Mónika Lakatos and the Gypsy Voices in an effort to represent and preserve Olah Gypsy culture in its purest traditional form.
Mónika was awarded the Anna Lindh-Prize at the 2007 Babel Med Festival. She also received the Parallel Culture Award at Mediawave Festival 2013, and was honored with the For Minorities award of the Hungarian government. In 2019 she was featured in Kult50, Fidelio Magazine’s top 50 list of most influential Hungarian artists. And last but not least, in 2020 Mónika became the first ever Romani recipient of the WOMEX Artist Award, the most prestigious award in world music.