Amira | Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music | International | Chicago Reader

Amira All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Sun., Oct. 30, 7 p.m. 2016

For most of her career Bosnian singer Amira Medunjanin has aimed to give a contemporary vibe to the centuries-old folk tradition from her homeland known as sevdalinka, a sorrowful form of balladry usually sung by women that dates back to Ottoman rule. The vast repertoire of sevdalinka primarily consists of romantic laments fueled by suffering and sadness—though these days it sounds like a kind of rhapsodized cafe music, a cousin to strains of American blues or Portuguese fado, with vocals often accompanied by an accordion or the wooden lute called the saz. As heard throughout her discography, including the forthcoming Damar (World Village), Medunjanin imparts a sophisticated urbanity to the form, adding instruments like guitar and piano to the mix while pushing it toward a kind of adult contemporary pop sound with a touch of jazz. She sings with remarkable control, finessing the emotional hearts of the folk songs into something sublime without surrendering their vulnerability. She’ll perform here with guitarist Ante Gelo and double bassist Zvonimir Sestak.

Peter Margasak

Price: $45, $43 members

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