Ceca performing in 2006
14 June 1973
(m. 1995; died 2000)
Svetlana Ražnatović (née Veličković; Serbian Cyrillic: Светлана Ражнатовић, pronounced [sʋětlana raʒnǎːtoʋit͡ɕ]; born 14 June 1973), better known by her stage name Ceca (Serbian Cyrillic: Цеца, pronounced [t͡sěːt͡sa]), is a Serbian pop-folk singer. Renowned for her raspy vocals and emotional delivery, she has sold millions of records and is recognized as one of the biggest Serbian singers of all time.
She has two children with career criminal and commander in the Yugoslav Wars, Željko Ražnatović Arkan, who was assassinated in January 2000. Despite her popularity and success, Ceca has been known as the subject of controversies. During Operation Sabre, she was arrested for illegal firearm possession. In 2011, Ražnatović was also charged for embezzlement and sentenced with €1,5 million fine and to a year in house arrest.
Life and career
Born in Prokuplje and raised in the village of Žitorađa, Ceca emerged as a teen star upon her debut album Cvetak zanovetak in 1988, receiving the song of the year award at the Ilidža Folk Music Festival. During the 1990s, she saw more significant popularity by collaborating with lyricist Marina Tucaković on hit-songs such as "Kukavica" (Coward) and "Beograd" (Belgrade). Following successful albums Ceca 2000 (1999) and Decenija (2001), in June 2002 she held a concert at Belgrade's Stadion Marakana for around 70,000 people. In June 2006 and 2013, Ceca has also performed at Belgrade's Ušće in front of more than 100,000 fans.
Furthermore at the age of seventeen, she starred as Koštana in the film adaptation of Borisav Stanković's novel Impure Blood, which was eventually cut out upon its release in 1996 due to poor critical reception. Ceca was also a judge on the RTV Pink's singing competition Pinkove Zvezde between 2014 and 2016.
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 unrest in Kosovo in March 2004.
Marriage and motherhood
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 of Independence, she met her future husband, Željko "Arkan" Ražnatović, the unit commander and a career criminal, through pop singer Oliver Mandić. 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 a month later, on 19 February. Ceca's parents were initially against the marriage. 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. In between the two births, on 30 September 1997, Ražnatović was indicted for war crimes of genocide against the Bosnian Muslim population, for crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. 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, saying of her husband:
"A part of me died that day... I will always love him, and only him, I'm sure of that..."
When the Serbian reformist Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić was assassinated on 12 March 2003, it prompted Serbian authorities to launch Operation Sabre. Ceca's 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 claimed the firearms were brought to the house by her late husband.
In 2011, Ceca 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 could have carried, 12 years in prison.
Ceca is officially banned from entering Croatia due to being proclaimed persona non grata. In one interview she stated that because of that, she always remains careful while picking her travel routes.
- Cvetak zanovetak (1988)
- Ludo srce (1989)
- Pustite me da ga vidim (1990)
- Babaroga (1991)
- Šta je to u tvojim venama (1993)
- Ja još spavam u tvojoj majici (1994)
- Fatalna ljubav (1995)
- Emotivna luda (1996)
- Maskarada (1997)
- Ceca 2000 (1999)
- Decenija (2001)
- Gore od ljubavi (2004)
- Idealno loša (2006)
- Ljubav živi (2011)
- Poziv (2013)
- Autogram (2016)
- To Miki, To (1990)
- Babaroga (1991)
- Kukavica + Tašmajdan (1993)
- Hala Pionir (1995)
- Marakana (2002)
- Live Ušće (2006)
- London MIX (2005 )
- C – Club (2012)
- "Beauty and the beast". Guardian. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2004.
- "Kriminalni estradni dosijei: pljačke, pronevere, pucnjave..." nova.rs (in Serbian). 12 August 2020.
- "Ceca Ražnatović pdržala koncert na Marakani pred 70.000 ljudi" (in Serbian). Nezavisne novine. 18 June 2002. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
- "Na Ušću 150.000 ljudi skandiralo "Ceco, mi te volimo"". pulsonline.rs (in Serbian). Retrieved 30 September 2020.
- "Ceca Ražnatović: Spektakl na Ušću pred 150.000 ljudi" (in Serbian). Hello. 29 June 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
- "Ceca & SSJ" (in Serbian). Retrieved 3 April 2017.
- "Žitije sa pevanjem i pucanjem". Vreme. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2005.
- Arbour, Louise (Prosecutor) (23 September 1997). "Tribunal against Željko Ražnatović also known as "Arkan" - INDICTMENT". The Hague: International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Archived from the original on 5 December 2004. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
- "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.
- "Ceca, Persona Non Grata u Hrvatskoj 'Mogu se samo nasmijati na njihove zabrane, nisam se nimalo potresla. Moja brojna publika iz RH uvijek nađe put do mene'". jutarnji.hr (in Croatian). 5 April 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
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