4 Haziran 2010 Cuma

Ljiljana Buttler and Mostar Sevdah Reunion - "Pilem, pilem"

"The Mother of Gypsy Soul" has died unexpectedly, taken by a cruel disease. True musical legend, she left us a consolation with her music. She had recently released a beautiful album Frozen Roses - 2009.

LJILJANA BUTTLER was born in Belgrade 1944., her father was an accordion virtuoso and her mother a Croatian singer. But her father left soon after she was born and her mother had to support herself and her child, singing in bars. They settled in Bijeljina, a small town in Bosnia, but one night her mother fell ill and Ljiljana went to the café and said “My mother can’t come tonight, she’s sick. Please let me sing.” She was only 12 but had learned at her mother’s side. A year later her mother left and Ljiljana was on her own – she continued singing in cafes to support herself through school. Then she headed for Belgrade. “I started singing in bars in Skadarlia (the famous restaurant quarter, a sort of Balkan Montmartre)”, she remembers. “The atmosphere was fantastic. The people laughed and cried during the music. That always inspired me – that and strong sljivovica (plum brandy), lots of sad loves and lots of emotion and romance. Sometimes we made recordings for Radio Belgrade. They simply came to the cafes, listened to the music and if they liked it, asked the musicians back to the radio to record”.
From 1980 Ljiljana started doing concerts and became well-known on TV until the political and musical mood started changing with so-called turbo-folk providing the soundtrack for the Milosevic era. “Even before the war, I realised that somehow the joy had vanished and the Balkan men were no longer interested in love stories. Suddenly it became important to wear a short skirt and flash your cleavage. The shorter the skirt, the better singer you were thought to be. I realised my time was over. It was a time for weapons and hatred. It affected me terribly and the war that followed has left scars that will last forever.”
In 1987 she vanished from the Balkan music scene in which she played such a dominant role, leaving music lovers wondering about her mysterious disappearance. In 2002 she decided to return to her homeland and record a new album on the Snail Records label. Her vocal abilities on “Mother of Gypsy Soul” lead us to the depths of Gypsy and Balkan soul. At the age of 62 she sings better then ever; what she is presenting to us now is a pure handbook of Balkan Blues. The astonishing reappearance of this lost legend is something to be more than grateful for.
Her performance on the album shows why, in the former Yugoslavia, she was referred to as the 'Gypsy Ella Fitzgerald' and the 'Billie Holiday of Gypsy Music', but mostly she was called lovingly the 'Mother of Gypsy Soul'.


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