Posts Tagged ‘live performance’


Amira Sings Sevdah at WOMEX 2013 from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

Sevdah, or Sevdalinka, is a folk song form with origins tracing back to Ottoman times, particularly in Bosnia and now common throughout the former Yugoslavia in the various Bosnian enclaves. These songs have been handed down, over the 5 centuries, and are still a part of the culture, and of late, new interpretations have arisen, placing these musical jewels into new settings. Although many of these melodies may have originally been sung a capella, it was also traditional for many years for the singer to simply be accompanied by a saz, or lute. To hear what this sounded like, check out the impeccable Emina Zecaj at:

Amira is certainly one of the best known of the new generation of Sevdah artists. Raised in Bosnia-Herzegovina, she learned most of the songs in her repertoire from her mother. She also displays the kind of bel canto interpretation that characterizes the form. Sevdah is not meant to be shouted or bluesy. Microtones may have possibly been an element at one point, but over time, what has remained are the sinuous lines and vaguely unresolved ends of melodies. It is a sophisticated, perfumed medium conveying longing, regret, and emotions unrequited. If this reminds you of the Portuguese saudade, you are not at all far off! The two words are actually related.

Amira sings a straight-ahead Sevdah. It is her backup band that sets her presentation apart, playing a jazz informed backup that never overwhelms the passionate reading of the songs.

“Zemi Me Zemi” is a song from South Serbia, and as Amira writes: “Both flirtatious and threatening, this song is an illustration of how a great desire can, if spurned, easily turn into hatred. How dangerous can love be?

“Take me, marry me, why don’t you take me?
If you marry anyone, it’s me you should marry!
If you do not, then God will take you!”

To contact Amira:
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Emily Portman Trio performs “Green Hollin” at WOMEX from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

“Green Hollin” had a traditional melody, with new words by Portman. “Hollin” and “Birk” are archaic terms for holly and birch, respectively.
With Lucy Farrell on on viola and Rachel Newton on harp.

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Janusz Prusinowski Trio (plus 2) live in Warsaw, May 13, 2013 from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

This is an excerpt from a wild set that the Trio (plus 2) performed at the festival. After all the hard core ethnic music, the ensemble illustrated just how innovative and galvanizing they can be, while still remaining true to their musical heritage.

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Here’s where you’ll find my weekly original world music video blogs that appear on Huffington Post, as well as an archive starting in April of 2009.

This is also the place where you will find video that is exclusive to my site. I’ve traveled to places like Uzbekistan, Morocco, and Taiwan and no matter where I go I have found amazingly talented and creative people working in every genre from the deepest traditions to the cutting edge.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to interview them and to capture some of what they do on video. Enjoy what you see and hear, and let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback.