«Sevdah teaches me about spiritual and intellectual values»


Naida Čatić (Divanhana)

Discovering sevdalinka for new audiences.

Elegance, presence and strength.


By César Campoy.

-When you hear the word “Sevdah”, what feelings come to your mind?
-When I was a child the first association was love. Today in my mind it’s more related to longing. Sevdah is, definitely, closely related to love, passion and suffering. When I am listening or singing I feel something more than love, more than words, something primeval and sacred.

-How would you explain Sevdah to someone who knows nothing about it, its meaning and how to live it?
-As I said it’s not just about the words or melody. Sevdah is expression of deep feelings from soul to soul. There are many definitions about Sevdah and sevdalinka, but each interpretator has its own. Mine is not expressed by words, it’s between heart sound and silence in the same time.

-And what are, for you, the geographical boundaries of Sevdah when you are seeking inspiration or references? Throughout history, there have been songs, considered sevdalinkas, upon tunes from Sephardic tradition, Serbian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Greek
-Bosnia and Herzegovina is culturally rich beacuse of the many influences during the history. There are a lot of traces from Ottoman to Austro Hungarian period of governance here. Those historical and cultural mixtures created a specific and great tradition in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sevdalinka is an unique term which indicates the identity of our culture and society, and as such must not be neglected. In this paper, we have the opportunity to get acquainted with the opinions of both the old doyens of sevdah who preserved sevdalinka, and the contemporary interpreters who continue to do so today. As a young performer, I also wanted take a more detailed look at the history of sevdah, and perhaps make a small step that will in time be of great importance to the cultural and historical heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

-What has the Sevdah given you, vitally and professionally?
-I am always saying that Sevdah teaches me about spiritual and intellectual values.

-And how do you think you have contributed to the history of the genre?
-Tradition is alive and we have to make our tradition today for a generation who is coming. I am very happy and glad that I am part of the new generation of interpretators who present Sevdah and traditional music all over the Europe, to people who do not related to this area. Sevdah has no limits and young people are very brave to make something new for tomorrow, because our children have to know about our roots.



-Do you agree with the tag “New Sevdah”, or do you think it is nothing more than a logical evolution?
-New Sevdah scene is very active especially last few years. Fusion of modern music including jazz, clasics or pop elements gave a new live to Sevdah by very successful singers such as Amira MedunjaninDamir Imamović, Božo Vrećo and band Divanhana as well.

-Throughout history, when has it been the best time for Sevdah?
-The magical time of Sevdah was during the 70’s. The time of the great interpretators such as Himzo Polovina, Zaim Imamović, Safet Isović, Nada Mamula, Zehra Deović. Those people made the greatest steps of Sevdah evolution

-And the worst time (by decline, musical arrangements, instrumentation with no sense…)?
-I think there is no worst time in creativity, each time of art is giving something new and different.

-Will there come a time when the big audience (international) will understand that the term “Balkan Music” goes beyond turbo-folk and fanfare?
-Balkan Music is very welcomed to the family of World Music, it’s means that international audience is involved about Sevdah and traditional music of Balkan as well. Turbo-folk music is limited and local, Sevdah goes global by each day.

-Top 5: Sevdalinkas (songs).
Ah, što ćemo ljubav kriti; Kradem ti se u večeri; Stade se cvijeće rosom kititi, Kiša pada, trava raste, and Omer beže.

-Top 5: Sevdalinka performers (singers).
Himzo Polovina, Nada Mamula, Zaim Imamović, Amira Medunjanin and Božo Vrećo.

-Top 5: Sevdalinka instrumentalists (musicians).
Muhamed Mešanović Hamić, Ismet Alajbegović Šerbo, Jovica Petković, Hašim Muharemović y Jozo Penava (composer).



More conversations about Sevdah in Sevdalinkas