EVA SALINA AND PETER STAN-SUDBINA: A PORTRAIT OF VIDA PAVLOVIC.

Eva Salina and Peter Stan-Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović.

Label: Vogiton Records.

Release Date: ‘30th’ March 2018.

When Serbian Roma singer Vida Pavlović took to the stage in dark, smokey, and noisy backstreet clubs, there was a respectful silence among the patrons in respect of the woman they called their Queen. Alas, it hadn’t always been that way for Vida Pavlović.

In the early days of her career, when Vida Pavlović made her way to the stage of a new venue, the audience was often full of tough, hard-living men who thought nothing of settling scores outside on the pavements. Vida Pavlović saw them smirking at her, and heard their lewd comments as she took to the stage. This changed when Vida Pavlović started to sing, and their was a respectful silence as these rough diamonds became putty in her hands. After each song, rapturous applause rung out from the  audience who were almost spellbound each time Vida Pavlović sang. Sometimes, these hard-living grown men were reduced to tears by Vida Pavlović’s tender, heartfelt, haunting and emotive performances that were always powerful and poignant. A new star was born in the former Yugoslavia.

Before long, the men in the clubs in Yugoslavia, which later became Serbia referred to Vida Pavlović as their Queen. Now their was a respectful silence as she took to the stage and sang in front of her people who held her in the highest regard. Despite being a hero to many in Yugoslavia and then Serbia, sadly, Vida Pavlović wasn’t destined for international stardom. 

Despite her considerable talent, and popularity Vida Pavlović wasn’t offered a lucrative recording deal by one of Europe’s major labels, and didn’t grace the stages of some of the world’s top venues. Sadly, Vida Pavlović never enjoyed a tantalising taste of commercial success and critical acclaim. Instead, Vida Pavlović had faded quietly into a dignified obscurity by 2005, and was living quietly far from the limelight she had once enjoyed. Still though, many people remembered Vida Pavlović who had won the love and respect of the Serbian people. They were shocked, when they heard of the tragic death of Vida Pavlović just before her sixtieth birthday. The Serbian people mourned the death of their former Queen who one of the legends of Balkan music who had influenced a generation of musicians.

This includes Balkan singer Eva Salina, who has been heavily influenced and inspired by many Balkan singers, and especially Vida Pavlović: “I am always hungry for new songs, especially from the incredible Roma women singers of 30-plus years ago, and hearing Vida’s grounded, total musicality simply blew my mind… I had never encountered songs that commented so plainly on women’s lives or a Roma singer who so naturally balanced masculine and feminine energies. The word ‘vida’ means ‘vision’ in Serbian, a perfectly chosen name for a singer who brought so much empathy and intuition to her songs.” This resonated with Eva Salina.

After discovering Vida Pavlović’s music, Eva Salina realised that she could identify with the music which spoke to, and for her, and many other Balkan women. “In the context of current movements toward women’s equality and agency, as I continue to dig deeper into this repertoire, I realize over and over how it’s all way more relevant than I could have anticipated. You can fill these songs to the brim with sadness, anger, frustration, and hope, and yet they are never saturated. There’s always room for more: more life, more desire, more understanding, more fire. Songs like these bring tenderness to the day-to-day reality of an unpredictable world and help temper the hardships in our own lives, and hopefully the lives of others.” 

It was only later, when Eva Salina had embarked upon a career as a singer, that she began to think about recording an album of Vida Pavlović’s songs. However, this wasn’t as easy as she first thought, and resulted in Eva Salina spending many an hour on the internet trying to track down performances of songs by Vida Pavlović and other Balkan singers of her generation. Often, these searches proved fruitless and frustrating as her best efforts came to naught. Still, Eva Salina persisted, and continued to look for new songs to add to her burgeoning repertoire. Meanwhile, she continued to return to Vida Pavlović’s poignant and haunting songs which struck a nerve and resonated deeply with her. They continued to tug at her heartstrings and eventually, she decided to record an album of Vida Pavlović’s with the help of one of accordionist Peter Stan

It was six years ago when Eva Salina was still a young, up-and-coming singer first met accordionist Peter Stan in a green room. As the young singer and accordionist sat and traded songs, Eva Salina was struck by Peter Stan ability to improvise, and noticed how he could seamlessly switch between songs and styles. Soon, the pair began discussing the music that they loved, and the subject turned to Roma songs which they both were passionate about. This commonality was the start of a musical partnership that has lasted six years. During that period, Peter Stan’s accordion had provided the perfect backdrop to Eva Salina inimitable vocal style, which is equal parts singer and storyteller. 

Eva Salina speaks highly and warmly about her costar on Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović. “Peter overflows with unpredictable moments, intense and quirky, but always deeply musical… Peter will never play a phrase the same way twice and often won’t remember what he played three minutes before. He’ll take a tour around multiple traditions in a single solo, but never loses himself. Accordion is his first and most fluent language.” When Eva Salina entered the studio Peter Stan would play with a fluency on Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović.

When Eva Salina and Peter Stan entered the studio, they planned to record eight of Vida Pavlović’s songs which became the album Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović. It will be released by Vogiton Records on the ‘30th’ of March 2018, and fittingly, the music on Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović is powerful and poignant and a fitting homage to the late Vida Pavlović.

By the time Eva Salina and Peter Stan began work on Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović, many still remembered Vida Pavlović’s tender, poignant and powerful performances  with a fondness. It wasn’t just the men who saw Vida Pavlović sing in the clubs, but women who remembered and admired Vida Pavlović.

For many women, she was a talismanic figure, and one who they admired and were inspired and influenced by. They remembered Vida Pavlović as a strong independent women who as a singer-songwriter provided a voice for those who had none. She spoke up for the disenfranchised and downtrodden and wasn’t afraid to tackle subjects that many singer-songwriters shied away. Not Vida Pavlović who wrote in Romanés and Serbian, about domestic abuse, marginalisation, migration and poverty. Vida Pavlović’s unflinching and impassioned accounts of these subjects were powerful, poignant and often heartbreaking. Despite documenting the dark side of life, Vida Pavlović remained a dignified figure, but someone who throughout her career was passionate about her music which she hoped would make a difference to other people’s lives. Sadly, music didn’t make much difference to Vida Pavlović’s life.

During her career, Vida Pavlović’s own life wasn’t far removed to the audiences who flocked to see her sing in clubs in towns and cities. Music didn’t make Vida Pavlović rich, and she lived alongside those who came to her concerts. Sadly, after her career came to an end Vida Pavlović’s life was described by those who remember her as bleak, sad and tragic. Despite this, she still carried herself with the same dignity that she had throughout her career. That was the case right up until her sudden death in 2005. 

Thirteen years later, and Eva Salina and Peter Stan will release Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović, which shines the spotlight once again on the Queen of Serbia’s music. Eva Salina enthuses about Vida Pavlović’s music, and its continued relevance today. “In the context of current movements toward women’s equality and agency, as I continue to dig deeper into this repertoire, I realize over and over how it’s all way more relevant than I could have anticipated. You can fill these songs to the brim with sadness, anger, frustration, and hope, and yet they are never saturated. There’s always room for more: more life, more desire, more understanding, more fire. Songs like these bring tenderness to the day-to-day reality of an unpredictable world and help temper the hardships in our own lives, and hopefully the lives of others.”

That is just part of Eva Salina’s story and her musical journey. “My entire musical education centered on Balkan vocal traditions, and I always particularly loved Bulgarian table songs, historical narratives recounted with precise, articulate melisma…While these songs provided tremendous technical challenge and beautiful melodies, Vida’s songs demand a different level of personal investment and interpretation. These are songs to grow into over a lifetime. The question I ask myself is this: How do I take this song beyond a show of skill and make it a vehicle to say something deep and honest? A great deal of who I am, what I have lived, and who I may be in the future is present in my singing on this album, and the same is true for Peter’s contributions. We’ve given ourselves nothing to hide behind-no production tricks, no distractions. It’s a pretty old-school record.”

Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović is also a powerful and poignant homage to Vida Pavlović where Eva Salina with the help of Peter Stan reimagine and reinvent the eight songs. There’s also an honesty to music on Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović, where Eva Salina is accompanied by understated and sometimes spartan arrangements that allow the vocal to take centre-stage. 

That is the case on the impassioned and poignant album opener Pusti me da živim where a Parisian sounding accordion accompanies a tender vocal from torch singer Eva Salina. Equally powerful is E laute bašalen taj rove where Eva Salina delivers a beautiful, soul-baring vocal. It’s a similar case on Ostala je pesma moja, where the accordion sets the scene for Eva Salina’s vocal. It veers between tender to emotive and hopeful during a poignant song that Vida Pavlović hoped would live on in the future. Eva Salina ensures that that is the case

Peter Stan’s accordion gives way to Eva Salina’s vocal on Ćerma Devla čirikli as she reaches new heights combining power and passion and breathing life and meaning to the lyrics. The tempo drops on Namarma dileja as the accordion provides a rueful, wistful backdrop as Eva Salina lays bare her soul. On Aven, aven Romalen Peter Stan’s fleet fingered accordion solo again sets the scene and later fills the gaps left by Eva Salina’s heartfelt vocal. Soon, it soars powerfully above the understated arrangement as Eva Salina and Peter Stan become a musical yin and yang.

There’s an honesty to E dadeći čajori (Dema miro) where Eva Salina’s performance has been influenced and inspired by Vida Pavlović’s original version. Eva Salina tells the story behind the song: “Vida’s performances have very clear arcs, she was completely in control of the stories she told. ‘Dema miro’ is the song to sing when people are ready to feel it all, when you’re ready to help everyone let it out. The song says ‘Give me peace, because you are devouring my heart,’ and then goes on to talk about the continued realization of one’s own poverty over a lifetime. The pain in that song is elemental–no nostalgia, nothing extraneous. The lyrics say so much without many words; the emotion lies in the melody and what it unleashes in people.” It’s also a song that features a poignant and powerful performance from Eva Salina who reaches new heights.

Closing Sudbina is Ostala which features trumpeter Demiran Ćerimović, who combines with Peter Stan and together they create a ruminative sounding track allows time to reflect  and remember Vida Pavlović, who was once the Queen of Serbian music.

Sadly, Vida Pavlović didn’t enjoy the commercial success and critical acclaim that Cesaria Evora, Chavela Vargas and Totó La Momposin went on to enjoy internationally. However, Vida Pavlović left behind a rich musical legacy which is treasured by her fans old and new, plus a new generation of Balkan singers. This includes Eva Salina who has been a lifelong fan of Vida Pavlović, and is determined to introduce her music to a new and wider audience internationally. To do this, Eva Salina and Peter Stan recorded their new album Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović, which will be released by Vogiton Records on the ‘30th’ of March 2018.  

Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović is the perfect introduction to one of the greatest Balkan singer of her generation, Vida Pavlović. Sadly, the trials and tribulations of her personal life resulted in the death of Vida Pavlović before she was sixty. This remarkable woman who provided a voice for the downtrodden and disenfranchised died way too young. 

Sadly, since then, Vida Pavlović’s songs have been overlooked by many singers. That is starting to change, with the release of Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović by Eva Salina and Peter Stan which is powerful and poignant homage to the former Queen of Serbian music. 

Eva Salina and Peter-Sudbina: A Portrait Of Vida Pavlović.

 

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