MOSTAR SEVDAH REUNIONBosnia and Herzegovina
Mostar Sevdah Reunion (MSR) is a music group primarily dedicated to playing the sevdalinka type of a song and Roma music. The story about the band begins in 1993 when producer Dragi Šestić recorded a number of songs with singer Ilijaz Delić, and sent them to his friends on audio tapes. He then made a promise to himself that he would do everything in his power so that the world gets to know sevdah. “Sevdah” is a word which at the same time denotes a state of one’s soul as well as a music genre. As a music genre, sevdah is linked with the oriental heritage in the Balkans. Etymologically, sevdah originates from the Arabic for black bile, a bodily liquid which traditionally symbolizes melancholy.
The first official release of Mostar Sevdah Reunion is a namesake album recorded in 1999. Musicians who by and large hail from the Mostar area played in this album, gathering for the occasion around Dragi Šestić’s idea. The album was a big international success and reached great popularity among the audience interested in world music. Its global popularity made it possible for the group to perform at prestigious festivals in Europe, including a performance at the famous jazz festival in Nice. This concert has a special place in the biography of the band because they performed at an evening event called “Blues Across the World – B. B. King and Friends”, together with great blues musicians such as B.B. King, Van Morrison, Dr. John, Bill Wyman, Keb’ Mo’ and Marva Wright – in front of 50,000 people.
There followed albums featuring legends of Roma music: Ljiljana Petrović Buttler, Šaban Bajramović and Esma Redžepova. Ljiljana Petrović was one of the most famous Roma singers in the former Yugoslavia. By the early 1970s, she moved from a pub underground scene to big discographic houses and TV performances. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, she suspended her career and emigrated with her children to Germany where she was a menial worked taking all sorts of difficult jobs. Dragi Šestić met her by accident in Dusseldorf and persuaded her to record an album with MSR, Mother of Gypsy Soul. Ljiljana Petrović often performed with MSR in concerts across the globe until her death in 2010.
Mostar Sevdah Reunion are Mišo Petrović (lead guitar), Sandi Duraković (guitar), Nermin Alukić Čerkez (vocals and guitar), Marko Jakovljević (bass), Gabrijel Prusina (piano), Senad Trnovac (drums) and Vanja Radoja (violin).