Amira - Queen Of Sevdah
Presented by Kitka,
in cooperation with Peer97 Music Group and Crown Entertainment
Sunday, November 13, 7:30-9:30PM
First Congregational Church of Oakland,
2501 Harrison Street, Oakland
$45 in advance, $55 at the door
Amira Medunjanin is one of the most influential female singers from the Balkans. Since her impressive performance in the Cultural Olympiad for the 2012 London Olympic Games, she has been hailed as “one of the great voices of her generation, and almost certainly the finest from eastern Europe” by The Observer.
Sarajevo-born Amira was in her teens in 1992, when the Bosnian war and its following atrocities broke loose. According to a recent interview with the Observer’s Ed Vulliamy, the idea of becoming a professional singer was then still unformed in her young mind. Instead, she eagerly rushed to attend the risky, do-it-yourself, literally underground gigs that her husband-to-be Bekim Medunjanin helped organize in city cellars at the time, joining other fascinated, rhythm-hungry young people in sheltering from the violence which gripped their city. Amira is largely responsible for the recent popularity of sevdah, which has left Balkan ground and reached more and more European homes, gaining rave reviews from world music magazines and reverberating to spellbound live audiences. From Japan, Taiwan, Stockholm to Liverpool, Istanbul to Helsinki and from boisterous jazz festivals to laid-out-bare solo performances, her vocal charisma unfailingly moves and captivates.
Dubbed “Bosnia’s Billie Holiday” by music journalist and author Garth Cartwright, the comparison reflects the way in which Amira turns sevdah inside out, finding new contexts and forms within a tradition that is hundreds of years old.
Much like the Portuguese "saudade", or the Spanish "duende", sevdah expresses the state of a mournful, melancholy heart, a yearning and a hymn to a love that pains you even at its most euphoric moments. In a collective global narrative soulfully built and popularized by Cesaria Evora’s Capoverdean morna, Amalia Rodriguez’s Portuguese Fado, Edith Piaf’s lamenting French chanson and, more notably, Billie Holiday’s legendary angst-ridden jazz standards, Amira Medunjanin embodies the heart and soul of traditional Balkan sevdalinka.
Amira - Queen Of Sevdah