Finding new contexts and forms within an oral tradition that is hundreds of years old,
Amira turns Sevdah inside out……
(Bosnia & Herzegovina)
“Brave and powerful” ****/5 Songlines
“Angelic, simply angelic” ****/5 Sunday Times
“A uniquely beguiling sound” ****/5 Independent on Sunday
“Amira’s voice remains an instrument of rare purity” ****/5 The Times
“Suicidal melancholy has rarely sounded as pretty” ****/5 Daily Telegraph
“A contemporary artistic vision that transforms a beautiful traditional form” ****/5 Evening Standard
“It is not easy to find a single word in English that can stand for the Bosnian concept of sevdah, although yearning perhaps comes closest. Like the Spanish duende, it carries multiple meanings – love, hopeless love, endless love, a desire that chills and fevers the lover like malaria, and like malaria can never be shaken off – but in the end, it’s a way of life, and a narrative that tells the story of itself.” Kim Burton
Amira was born in Sarajevo at the time when the popularity of traditional music in the former Yugoslavia was at the high tide, and sevdah held a special place for her. The sevdalinke (sevdah songs) she learned from her mother were the most beautiful of songs. Her fascination with the oral tradition of Bosnia and Herzegovina led her to devote herself to creating a unique voice within sevdalinke to explore their expressive capacity to the full. She had spent years searching in vain for to find people who shared her ideas about Sevdah, and for the best way to present it. 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.
After guesting on Mostar Sevdah Reunion’s album A Secret Gate in 2003, Amira recorded her debut album, Rosa, (Snail Records, 2005), which garnered great reviews in the UK and across Europe, featuring in several “Album of the Year” lists. In April 2009 Amira released Live, a recording of a concert held at the Jazz Fest Sarajevo in 2008, at which Amira presented her new band members, four fantastic musicians: Kim Burton / on piano, accordion and caval, Dino Šukalo / on guitar, Amar ešljar / on percussions Edvin Hadži? / on double bass.
At the same time, in April 2009, Amira recorded the album Zumra (Harmonia Mundi, World Village, 2010 ) in collaboration with Merima Kljuo, the internationally renowned accordionist. The album represents the innovative approach to the musical tradition of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia by fusing contemporary accordion and arrangements to the traditional melody, lyrics and vocal styling.
In 2010, Amira joined forces with Bojan Z, Walter Quintus, Bachar Khalife, Nenad Vasilic, Kim Burton and Vlatko Stefanovski to recorded a fresh repertoire of traditional songs from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo – Amulette is due to be released in September 2011 (Harmonia Mundi/World Village) – ‘’Amira’s amulet is the spirituality, the sweetness and vibrant humanity of the Balkans, a tradition that is both her inheritance and her gift.” Kim Burto
ROSA (Connecting Cultures/Snail Records, 2005 )
AMIRA Live @ Jazz Fest Sarajevo (Gramofon, 2009)
ZUMRA with Merima Kljuo (Harmonia Mundi/World Village, 2010)
AMULETTE with Bojan Z (Harmonia Mundi / World Village, 2011 )