Amira - Damar front 300x300 RGBWhy do people sing? What is the need that drives a voice out of a body? It’s a simple, yet a most difficult question, because the answers are either too metaphysical, or too scientific. Where Amira comes from, however, people tend to believe that the song is connected to the soul. Indeed the highest compliment that can be bestowed upon a singer is that “she sings from the soul”- pjeva iz duše. The soul in that conception is a metaphysical core of the person, but also a measure of her presence in the world, all of which the song makes manifest to others. Singing is but a pursuit of her true essence. This all sounds highfalutin, but it is in fact simple – anyone can hear the soul in the music. The point of singing is to make the soul recognizable in the song; its indelible, yet ineffable, presence is what provides the pleasure – to the audience as well as the singer.

Much of traditional western Balkan music revolves around the soul, and no one understands it better than Amira. Record after record, album after album, she pursues the evanescent soulfulness of each individual song she chooses to sing. The choices are always excellent, the songs matching her so perfectly that it seems they had been made for her and not in a different, distant century.  To say that her voice and art have matured means that she goes after the slightest modulation, explores each breath, relishes each word and its inflection to give the exact shape to that thing called the soul. You can hear it clearly, as you can hear the pleasure she experiences in that achievement, which why even the saddest songs, the narratives of even the most crushing heartbreaks, always contain substantial amounts of joy. For it is precisely the simultaneous presence of joy and sorrow, of the whole range of being in the world,  that is a sign of the soul’s presence in the song. This is what Amira does: her voice contains worlds, and in those worlds we discover ourselves.

Aleksandar Hemon