Musical Journeys at Magaza: Sevdah (Part 2)

Sevdalinka – From Old Masters to New Interpreters

Contributor: Lisa Stewart


Musical Journeys at Magaza (continued)




Amira Medunjanin


Amira has always been intrigued by sevdah, and her own interpretations reflect a deep reverence for the songs she performs. Her career has taken her around the world and she has been able to blend sevdah with other music forms, while still retaining the melancholic overtones and meaningful silence within a particular piece.


When asked, during one interview, where the music might take her next, she replied, "I'm not here to make money or be a star. All I know is that I don't want to do what is expected of me. I just want to take sevdah to as many people as possible and feed it with as many kinds of music I can." 



Here are some of Amira’s sevdah albums: 

Ascending (with the Trondheim Soloists)


Silk and Stone

Zumra & Live At Arena Pula




Božo Vrećo is one of the newest sevdah interpreters on the Sarajevo music scene. This archeology student turned musician brings his appreciation for history, ancient cultures and musical traditions to the fore with his own unique style.



He is quoted as saying:
“All that working with history and the past, with tradition and cultural elements, I just figured out that sevdah was something I wanted to be involved with. I wanted to explore it, so I followed my path, believing in my dreams.”


While he got his start with Halka, Božo soon set out on a solo career, and he has been demonstrating his abilities as a poet-singer-songwriter ever since. His many albums and singles reflect a range of styles and an eagerness to collaborate with international musicians. 


Here are just a few of Božo’s albums: 



O ljubavi (with Halka) 

Halka (with Halka)




Traditionally, the word “divanhana” refers to a place where people would gather in the evenings, usually in the room of a home where there would be plenty of singing!


Divanhana is a group that performs contemporary arrangements of traditional Bosnian songs and other music from all over the Balkans. While they are known for their own renditions of sevdah pieces, their music is also influenced by other genres.


Their most recent album, Kardeş, was done in collaboration with Suzan Kardeş, a Turkish singer and actress, and the songs pay tribute to the rich musical traditions Turkey and BiH continue to share. Click here for a selection of their albums.


Damir Imamović comes from a family that has always been immersed in the sound of sevdah. His grandfather, Zaim Imamović, was a legendary sevdalija (folk singer and sevdah performer), and now, as a young interpreter himself, Damir appreciates the fact that the old songs that were passed down through the generations in this region have blended nicely with other influences over the centuries, and that they have come to embody something universal.



He also believes that they have a unifying quality, as he shares:
“It is more interesting to see what is held in common in North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and parts of Croatia, than to see what divides them.”


Magaza offers a nice selection of Damir’s albums (see link). 

More to come on saz & sevdah and sevdah-related books in Part 3 of Musical Journeys at Magaza. Stay tuned!
Photography by: Naida Kraljić
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