Story of Sevdah

"Stone in the Sky" (Stećci - Bosnian tombstones), digital art by Mooyo Neimar, 2012 (c) Copied with the artist's permission

Sevdah, as a traditional musical form , is an expression of the soul. Often likened to Portuguese Fado and American Blues, Sevdah is an institution.
Much valuable information already exists on the musical merits of Sevdah. I will use this space to give my own very personal, and emotional, Story of Sevdah.

Sevdah is what carries us, people from the Former Yugoslavia – immigrants, refugees, former soldiers of many armies, prisoners of war, prisoners of our memories. We have what some call a Losstalgia, a sense of not belonging, a sense of permanent and unspeakable loss – something, deep inside, is hurting and we cannot give it a name.

The musical power of Sevdah gives our sorrow and collective tragedy a voice. Although it is traditionally associated with the music of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and predominantly viewed as a Muslim tradition,   such a view of Sevdah is very limited. This traditional music, in its many variant forms, has been sung for centuries throughout Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia, and across the Balkans, with much of its authenticity still intact.

In my life, it was my grandmother, my uncles, and my father who brought this music, with its powerful storylines, into my consciousness. Stories were told through song – powerful stories of passion, love and longing. There is a mystical quality to this highly ornamented music, such that every breath is appreciated, every note is cherished. People known and unknown stop to listen – as the singer takes them to a place of contemplative peace, a place where each sound and each moment of silence reflects the universe’s perfection and unity.

Such is the power of this music, that even when I sing a Russian romance or Opera - I am still really singing Sevdah, the music of my predecessors.

My sincere hope is that you will enjoy this music and my upcoming album as significant part of my being, which has originated from Sevdah as a fundamental sound, Sevdah as a perfect place, Sevdah -- as a way of life.