Ceca in 2009
|Birth name||Svetlana Veličković|
|Also known as||Ceca|
14 June 1973 |
Žitorađa, Serbia, Yugoslavia
Svetlana Ražnatović (Serbian Cyrillic: Светлана Ражнатовић, pronounced [sʋětlana raʒnǎːtoʋit͡ɕ]; née Veličković/Величковић, [ʋelǐt͡ʃkoʋit͡ɕ]), known by her stage name Ceca (Цеца, [t͡sěːt͡sa]; born 14 June 1973) is a Serbian pop folk singer, and one of the most popular singers in Serbia and the Balkans. She started her career as a folk singer in 1988. Being one of the highest paid artists in the Serbian music industry, she performs various types of music, mainly Balkan folk or plain pop with ethnographic elements. Due to her enormous popularity, she has been called "Mother of Serbia", and "The Queen".
Ceca was born Svetlana Veličković in the village of Žitorađa, then part of Yugoslavia. She lived with her parents, father Slobodan and mother Mira, until 1991, when she eloped to Switzerland with her boyfriend at the age of 18. She has a sister named Lidija.
Ceca had her first public appearance at the age of nine, in her hometown, and at the age of thirteen she sang in a hotel on the Montenegrin coast, while vacationing with her parents. Here, the acclaimed singer and accordion player Mirko Kodić noticed her, and helped her in recording her first studio album Cvetak zanovetak (The Little Nagging Flower, 1988). At the age of fifteen, she performed at the Ilidža Music Festival in Sarajevo, at which her song "Cvetak zanovetak" won the competition, and became a hit. Ceca was mentored by Dobrivoje "Doca" Ivanković, a composer and producer of folk music, who launched many careers in the 1970s and 1980s (most notably that of Šaban Šaulić.)
Her first two albums, Cvetak zanovetak (1988) and Ludo srce (Crazy Heart, 1989) were made in the traditional Serbian folk music style with some songs, such as "Volim te" (I Love You), having a more modern production. Pustite me da ga vidim (Allow Me to See Him), she quickly became a very popular teenage star and idol for many people in Serbia. Her third album, was a major hit in the former Yugoslavia. Ceca became the best-selling artist of the Belgrade TV's record label PGP-RTB and third best-selling female folk artist in Yugoslavia, behind Lepa Brena and Dragana Mirković. She continued in the same direction with her next album, Babaroga (1991) which included a music video for the song "Hej vršnjaci" (Hey Peers) composed of footage from her eighteenth birthday gala event.
At the age of 17, Ceca was cast in the role of Koštana, a beautiful gypsy singer and dancer, in Stojan Stojčić's directorial effort of Nečista krv (Impure Blood), a movie based on the works of Serbian playwright and novelist Borisav Stanković. Even though she had acted alongside actors such as Rade Šerbedžija, Ljuba Tadić, she felt that her role was unimportant and therefore asked for her scenes to be removed because of "low quality." The troubled production took years to complete and received poor critical reception upon its release in 1996.
She continued to work with Marina Tucaković, Edin Dervišhalidović and later with their young protégé Aleksandar Milić Mili, with whom she continues to work today. Her next three albums, Šta je to u tvojim venama (What Is In Your Veins?, 1993), Ja još spavam u tvojoj majici (I Still Sleep In Your Shirt, 1994) and Fatalna ljubav (Fatal Love, 1995), broadened her popularity and included hit songs such as "Nije monotonija" (It Is Not Monotony) and two covers of hit Hanka Paldum songs: "Tražio si sve" (You Wanted Everything) and "Volela sam volela" (I Loved, I Loved.) With a more modern production of music, music videos, and an evolving style, her popularity grew, as demonstrated by her 1996 album Emotivna luda (Emotionally Crazy) and 1997's Maskarada (Masquerade). The song "Nevaljala" (Naughty) from Maskarada became the number one hit in Serbia for seventeen consecutive weeks. Her recording schedule became erratic because of the birth of her two children, Veljko in 1996 and Anastasija in 1998, and having to deal with family tragedy.
She released her tenth studio album, Ceca 2000 (1999), which featured multiple hit songs: "Crveno" and two covers "Crni sneg" and "Sviće dan". Her eleventh album Decenija (Decade, 2001) had two hit songs, "Tačno je" (It's Correct) and the title track. Ceca's twelfth album was Gore od ljubavi (Worse Than Love), released in 2004, and her thirteenth studio album Idealno loša (Ideally Bad, 2006) contained the hit songs "Manta, manta" (Dizzy, Dizzy) and "Koža pamti" (Skin Remembers.) She released her fourteenth studio album Ljubav živi (Love Lives) in June 2011.
She inherited the football club FK Obilić from her deceased husband and became its president. She often appeared at matches in fur coats and imposed strict monetary punishments on players who performed poorly as Obilić, former champion of Yugoslavia, sank in the rankings. It has continued to fall, currently relegated to a local amateur league.
When Miljan Miljanić stepped down as president of the Football Association of Yugoslavia in September 2001, Ceca was promoted as his successor. One notable supporter was Velibor Vasović. The former Ajax captain noted that she was one of the few investing money in Serbian football. Former Crvena Zvezda player Dragan Stojković Piksi was elected instead.
In March 2011, Ceca was charged with embezzlement and accused of illegal possession of eleven weapons. She had sold fifteen players of FK Obilić to several international football clubs, including Fenerbahçe. State prosecutors accused Ceca of taking for personal use an illegal share in the sale of fifteen players. Ceca denied having been involved in any illegal activity, saying her late husband was responsible for FK Obilić and the eleven illegal weapons found in her home, the property of a man who had died a decade before.
Ceca was appointed the honorary president of the Party of Serbian Unity (SSJ) formed by her late husband, Željko Ražnatović (Arkan). She has not been politically active and claims to have only accepted the position in honor of her deceased husband. After clashing with the president of the party, Borislav Pelević, on many issues, Ceca withdrew herself from politics completely.
On the night of 17 March 2004, Ceca and Kristijan Golubović (close associate of Arkan) gathered demonstrators in front of the government building in Belgrade to speak about the situation in Kosovo and the burning of more than 300 Serbian Orthodox churches in Kosovo.
Ceca is the president of the "Third Child" humanitarian fund. Her organizations prime goal is to increase the birthrate in Serbia and to help families who already have three or more children. She has held several humanitarian concerts raising money for food, clothing, and sundries to benefit the Serbs in Kosovo, after the 2004 unrest in Kosovo in March 2004.
Svetlana lived at home until her move to Switzerland in 1991 at the age of eighteen. She dated Dejan "Šaban" Marjanović, a minor Belgrade gangster, who was murdered. She was then in a relationship with former FK Borac footballer and restaurateur Haro Samardžić.
While performing for the Serb Volunteer Guard (SDG), a paramilitary force also known as Arkan's Tigers, in Erdut on 11 October 1993 during the Croatian War, she met her husband, Željko "Arkan" Ražnatović, a military commander who in addition to leading the said paramilitary force was one of the most influential criminal in the 1990s Belgrade. When the Party of Serbian Unity (SSJ) was formed, she was asked by Arkan to perform. He was married at the time, and the divorce that ended that marriage was finalized two months before their wedding. Arkan proposed to Ceca on 7 January 1995 and they married one month later on 19 February. Their wedding was broadcast on television, made headlines in newspapers, and was portrayed by Serbian media as a "Serbian fairytale." They had two children, a son Veljko in 1996 and daughter Anastasija in 1998. Ceca's parents, Mira and Slobodan were against the marriage of their daughter to a paramilitary member."
Arkan was shot on 15 January 2000 in a Belgrade hotel by four gunmen. Despite having been shot in the head, he remained alive for a brief period of time but died in Ceca's arms in the backseat of the car that was taking them to the emergency room. After fifteen months of mourning, she made her first public appearance in April 2001 in a television interview. "A part of me died that day... I will always love him, and only him, I'm sure of that...," she said in the interview.
Reformist Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić was assassinated on 12 March 2003, prompting Serbian authorities to launch Operation Sablja. Ceca's luxury Belgrade home was raided as part of the crackdown on the network of criminals and nationalists behind the assassination. The raid led to a thorough investigation. She was arrested on 17 March 2003 and charged with illegal possession of multiple firearms. Ceca was one of dozens of people detained in the crackdown and she spent three months in prison. She also claimed the firearms were brought to the house by her late husband.
In 2011, Ražnatović pleaded guilty to embezzling millions of euros from the transfers of players from the football club FK Obilić, which she inherited from her late husband, and again illegal possession of eleven weapons. Ceca had sold fifteen players of FK Obilić to several international football clubs (such as Fenerbahçe.) Serbian state prosecutors accused her of taking for personal use an illegal share in the sale of fifteen players. Ceca denied having been involved in any kind of illegal activities, saying that her late husband was responsible for FK Obilić and that the eleven illegally possessed weapons found in her home also belonged to him. Under a plea bargain, Ražnatović was ordered to spend eight months under house arrest, avoiding the maximum sentence that the charges against her carry, 12 years in prison. Ceca was sentenced to one-year house arrest (May 2011 - February 2012) and fined EUR 1.5 million. According to court records, she has paid 1 million EUR of the fine; the remaining third is guaranteed by a mortgage on her Belgrade home. Ceca continues to face other court cases, such as for violent criminal behavior, repaying a loan from Komercijalna bank, and repaying a debt to Vojislav Đurković, a former member of the paramilitary unit once controlled by Arkan.
- Cvetak zanovetak (The Nagging Flower, 1988)
- Ludo srce (Crazy Heart, 1989)
- Pustite me da ga vidim (Let Me See Him, 1990)
- Babaroga (Boogie Man) (1991)
- Šta je to u tvojim venama (What Is That In Your Veins?, 1993)
- Ja još spavam u tvojoj majici (I Still Sleep In Your Shirt, 1994)
- Fatalna ljubav (Fatal Love, 1995)
- Emotivna luda (Emotionally Crazy, 1996)
- Maskarada (Masquerade, 1997)
- Ceca 2000 (1999)
- Decenija (Decade, 2001)
- Gore od ljubavi (Worse Than Love, 2004)
- Idealno loša (Ideally Bad, 2006)
- Ljubav živi (Love Lives, 2011)
- Poziv (Phone Call, 2013)
- To Miki, To (1990)
- Babaroga (1991)
- Kukavica + Tašmajdan (1993)
- Hala Pionir (1995)
- Marakana (2002)
- Live Ušće (2006)
- Live Ušće 2 (2013)
- Sve O Ceci... (1993)
- Svadba Decenije (1995)
- Impure blood... (1996)
- Usce live DVD (2006)
- Making Of "Gore Od Ljubavi" (2004)
- Ceca specijal (2012)
- "Svetlana Ceca Raznatovic set Usce on fire with 150,000 fans [video] – InSerbia News". Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- Vulliamy, Ed (29 March 2011). "Serb singer Ceca charged with embezzlement". The Guardian (London).
- "Press Online :: Life style :: Uspon i pad srpske majke". Retrieved 2013-06-18.
- ""Kandže" su naoštrene: JK i Ceca na sudu, ali zašto je "srpska majka" tužna? (FOTO)". Retrieved 2013-06-18.
- "Noć srpske majke | B92 Blog". Retrieved 2013-06-18.
- Žitije sa pevanjem i pucanjem;Vreme, 19 May 2005
- "Beauty and the beast". Guardian. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2004.
- "Žitije sa pevanjem i pucanjem". Vreme. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2005.
- "Serbian Pop Diva Investigated Over Soccer Transfers". rferl. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
- Vulliamy, Ed (29 March 2011). "Serbian singer Ceca charged with embezzlement". London: The Guardian.
- "Serbian pop singer Ceca, widow of warlord Arkan, avoids jail term". Guardian. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
- "Ceca u kućnom pritvoru". RTS. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
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