Damir Imamović: Singer of Tales

As a boy during the Siege of Sarajevo (1992-96) Damir Imamović took advantage of confinement and learned to play guitar. He didn’t envision a music career, but after earning a philosophy degree and landing a job in publishing, fate approached him, dressed as an assignment to edit a book on the songs of his grandfather, Zaim Imamović, a leading sevdah artist of the twentieth century. By the time … More Damir Imamović: Singer of Tales

Maja Milinković: Fadolinka

Like many artists, Maja Milinković takes advantage of unexpected opportunity and inspiration. She learned guitar in an underground shelter during the Siege of Sarajevo; it helped her stay calm and prepared her for a music career. By age 15 she was playing in a rock band and by 30, with two solo pop-rock albums behind her, she was widely known in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans. But along the way a friend showed her a video of Amália … More Maja Milinković: Fadolinka

Kazan: Ružo​

Based on his study of birdcalls, Darwin came to believe that love songs, no less than love itself, were essential to human propagation. Opting for science over criticism, however, he never weighed in on one conundrum: Whether a romantic ballad is beautiful or tedious often has little or no bearing on its success in courtship. A case in point is Ružo (Rose), the debut album of the Croatian ensemble Kazan. Their traditional love songs in retro-modern garb are … More Kazan: Ružo​

Divanhana: Zukva – Sevdah from Bosnia’s Finest

The zukva is a sour Bosnian apple that can’t be transplanted but blends well in hybrids. On their third album, the members of Divanhana use the apple is an apt symbol of their music—sevdalinka—urban Bosnian folk woven from Balkan, Turkish and Sephardic strands. Adding to the blend, the band grafts brass, piano, bass and drums onto traditional accordion and the enchanting voice of Leila Ćatić. Sevdalinka typically conveys love’s passion … More Divanhana: Zukva – Sevdah from Bosnia’s Finest

Mamak Khadem: The Road

Mamak Khadem defies categorization. Born in Iran and rooted in Persian classical styles, she has also studied North Indian and Balkan traditions. Resettled in Los Angeles, she spent 10 years as lead singer for Axiom of Choice, a Persian-western fusion group. The Road, her second solo album, is less a blending than a radiant mosaic, exploring Iranian majority and minority cultures, Balkan folk and Andalusian classical music. Amid a diverse collection … More Mamak Khadem: The Road