The new favorite of the Sevdalinka, Božo Vrećo, quickly became a star in the Balkans, thanks to his magnificent voice and his ability to mix both genres (male and female) to pay tribute to the repertoire of traditional Bosnian songs. Behind his beard, make-up and feminine appearance, the Bosnian artist represents the rebirth of this folkloristic register dating back to the 15th century. A mixture of Ottoman and urban musical influences.
When history meets renewal. The bearded musician succeeds in exporting his music beyond the borders of the Balkans. His success is growing and Cully Jazz offers the opportunity to mark April 21 at the temple. It is the last concert before the curtain falls for the 36th edition of the festival, like a firework.
For people who do not know the Sevdalinka, how would you describe them in your own words?
Sevdah (Sevdalinka is of Arabic origin and the word Sevdah means black bile) is a state of love and liberation during which you feel relief when you sing or hear the song. These are sad lyrics, they remind us that we must love and are an integral part of our soul. We are actors of these songs and all this sad melancholy of pain and love. That’s our identity. Sevdah is the light of hope, the sun after a storm.
You started your career late. Do you think that your late beginnings were beneficial for the rest of your musical career?
I started to engage in music at 26, after my archeology studies. Then my love for sevdalinka has arrived, this needs to belong to this music in all possible ways. It’s like a hello, a mission, an escape from reality, bad relationships and disappointments. This music is my oasis of security, the place where my most hidden emotions meet. I always say that Sevdah is my ideal partner.
You are from Bosnia and Herzegovina. A country with a heavy legacy that has experienced a war that has left its mark on the Balkan landscape. Are you a rather pessimistic or optimistic man? Do you think that pessimism, sadness, hard times are favorable factors for creation? In your opinion, does creativity emerge more easily from painful moments?
There is still a lot of bitterness in the streets, people are unhappy without work and without progress. There are fewer people like me who live their dreams and look forward to starting a new day. We have no government, no state, no laws, we live in a country with “rescues” at the head of a corrupt state. It’s anarchy. We survived the bombings, the war, the famine and the loss of loved ones. We did it and we continued our lives. So there is a lot of pain, sadness in my music. Sevdalinka reflects pain in general and nostalgia, the main reasons that make sevdalinka.
I am not affected by conservative snobs
Your music is the music of a traditional folk of your country. A music that goes through the ages and sung by your ancestors. You sing in both genres (male and female). In the Balkans, is it difficult to defend your art, your position as a musician who uses two genres, knowing that in these countries, society is very patriarchal?
It’s still a taboo theme, but it does not bother me. I am not affected by conservative snobs or even idiots. I focus on my art and just how I feel. My name has become synonymous with freedom, even the New York Times has written about me. My motto is, “Be who you are and all dreams come true. ”
My masculine side is in harmony with my feminine side
You see yourself as a person of both genders. Do you think that human perfection is a mixture of woman and man?
We are all born as men and women … for a life full of freedom. You need courage and confidence to lead your life. Life is too short to be someone else. Be as you are and believe in yourself. My masculine side is in harmony with my feminine side, they like to work together.
You like to write and paint. Can you name a writer or painter who moved you lately?
I will quote a book on Stravinsky written by Robert Craft. Also the painter Carlo Dolci with his painting “Blue Madonna” and Paja Jovanovic with his painting “Decorating of the Bride”. My 5th album will be released in June and the inspiration is inside me and all around. I write a piece wherever I go, wherever I am. My music is part of my breathing.
Finally, an artist or a group that you listen to willingly or a lot lately?
Many of them like Toot Ard & Arab Acid, Mustafazade Vagif, Alim Qasimov, Natalie Dessay, Simeon Ten Holt, Morgenland Chamber Orchestra.