Brena performing in the Kombank Arena, October 2011
20 October 1960
Tuzla, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yugoslavia
|Other names||Fahreta Jahić Živojinović|
Fahreta Živojinović (née Jahić; born 20 October 1960), known by her stage name Lepa Brena (Serbian Cyrillic: Лепа Брена), is a turbo-folk singer, actress, and talent manager, arguably the most popular singer of former Yugoslavia and the top-selling female recording artist from Yugoslavia with more than 40 million records sold.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Controversy
- 5 Discography
- 6 Filmography
- 7 Tours and concerts
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Born into a Bosnian Muslim family near Tuzla, she grew up in Brčko, the youngest child of Abid Jahić (c. 1928 – 22 October 2010) and Ifeta (née Smajlović; 15 April 1934 – 21 November 2014). Both of her parents are originally from villages near Srebrenik; her father was born in Ježinac and her maternal family hailed from Ćehaje. Fahreta has two older siblings, a sister Faketa, and a brother Faruk. At the start of the Bosnian War in 1992, her sister Faketa escaped to Canada, where she lives today.
Her first performance before an audience was in the fifth grade at a local festival, singing a Kemal Monteno song called "Sviraj mi o njoj". She later reflected, "It was the only time in my life that I've ever experienced stage fright." After that she would regularly perform at dance parties in Brčko.
While a guest on a Croatian television show in March 2014, she was asked if she was ashamed of having a Muslim name, to which she replied: "Why would I be ashamed? I was and stay what I am. Today I am Fahreta. I am proud of my parents and roots". She said, of her stage name, that "Brena" was given by her basketball trainer Vlado, while the epithet "Lepa" (beautiful) was given by showman Minimax.
1980–83: Slatki Greh and career beginnings
In early 1980, at the age of 19, Fahreta began singing with a band called Lira Show when the group's original singer Spasa left the band because her husband, a boxer, did not want his wife to be a singer. Saša Popović, the band's frontman, was initially opposed to the idea that Fahreta should be the band's new singer, but later changed his opinion. She subsequently moved to Novi Sad and then to Belgrade. Brena's first performance with Lira Show occurred on 6 April 1980 in the hotel Turist in Bačka Palanka. Lira Show changed their name to Slatki Greh (Sweet Sin) in 1981. Brena and Slatki Greh premiered their first studio album, Čačak, Čačak, on 3 February 1982. It was named after the Serbian city Čačak. The album was written mostly by Milutin Popović-Zahar, and the career-manager was Vladimir Cvetković.
Since her career began in 1980, she has become arguably the most popular singer of the former Yugoslavia, and a top-selling female recording artist with more than 40 million records sold. That same year Lepa Brena and Slatki Greh appeared in the first part of Yugoslav classic comedy film Tesna koža with popular comedian Nikola Simić and actress Ružica Sokić, which raised their profile and brought them almost instant fame. They would again team up with songwriter Milutin Popović-Zahar for their second studio album Mile voli disko, released 18 November 1982. In addition to the title song, the album had a couple of other hit songs: "Duge noge" and "Dama iz Londona".
In 1983, Lepa Brena and Slatki Greh ended their collaboration with Milutin Popović-Zahar and Vladimir Cvetković. That same year Lepa Brena and Slatki Greh participated in Jugovizija, the Yugoslav selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, with the song "Sitnije, Cile, sitnije". The song was released on an extended play of the same name, along with another song. Their appearance on Jugovizija caused confusion among the audience, since the competition was considered exclusively reserved for pop singers. Although they did not qualify for the prestigious European competition, Lepa Brena and Slatki Greh won the contest, gaining even more popularity.
1984–90: Bato, Bato and Hajde da se volimo
1984 saw Brena and her band begin a cooperation with a new manager and producer, Raka Đokić. Bato, Bato, their third album, was released the same year. A new provocative image was accompanied by a new musical style, different from the one fostered by Popović. Later that year, they held a concert in neighboring Romania, at the stadium in Timisoara to an audience of 65,000. It was the first successful concert of a Yugoslav musician outside their home country.
Along with these albums, Brena established a cooperation with Yugoslav folk star Miroslav Ilić and recorded a collaborative extended play Jedan dan života, which featured four songs, including a romantic duet called "Jedan dan života", and the song "Živela Jugoslavija", which was received with a mixed response. The latter song was in line with Brena's only official political stance: an uncompromising support of a united Yugoslavia, with her becoming a symbol of this view.
By the end of 1986, Lepa Brena had become the most successful public figure in Yugoslavia.
Brena's manager Raka Đokić came up with the idea that her seventh studio album should be followed by a movie in which she would play the lead role. This idea was successfully implemented in 1987 when the motion picture Hajde da se volimo was filmed. The movie had the same name as the album. Many then-popular Yugoslav actors co-starred in the film, including Dragomir Gidra Bojanić, Milutin Karadžić, Velimir Bata Živojinović, Milan Štrljić etc. During the premiere of the film on 24 October 1987, Brena met her future husband, tennis star Slobodan Živojinović.
Based on the success of the original, two sequels were produced: Hajde da se volimo 2 (1989) and Hajde da se volimo 3 (1990), which was followed by the studio album Boli me uvo za sve. Boli me uvo za sve also had multiple hit songs including "Čik pogodi", "Biće belaja", "Tamba Lamba", and the title track.
Their eighth studio album Četiri godine was released on 1 October 1989 and contained the controversial song "Jugoslovenka" with Bosnian rock musician Alen Islamović. The music video for the pop-folk song "Čuvala me mama" was filmed on the Croatian island Lopud.
Lepa Brena and Slati Greh held more than 350 concerts yearly, and would often hold two concerts in one day. They set a record by holding thirty-one concerts consecutively at Dom Sindikata, and seventeen concerts consecutively at the Sava Center. On 24 July 1990, Brena was lowered with a helicopter at Levski stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria and held her then-most-attended concert with an audience of 110,000 people. While she was in Bulgaria in July 1990, she met with the Bulgarian mystic Baba Vanga.
1991–99: Ja nemam drugi dom and Grand Production
Brena and Slatki Greh released their second-to-last album together, Zaljubiška, in 1991.
In February 1994, after a nearly three-year hiatus, Brena premiered her first solo album Ja nemam drugi dom, and held a famous "concert in the rain" on 13 June 1994 at Tašmajdan stadium which was attended by 35,000 people. After that, she recorded two more solo albums: Kazna Božija (1994) and Luda za tobom (1996). In the mid-90s she had many popular songs; "Kazna Božija", "Luda za tobom", "Sve mi dobro ide osim ljubavi", "Izdajice", "Moj se dragi englez pravi", "I da odem iza leđa bogu", "Ja nemam drugi dom", "Dva dana", and "Ti si moj greh", among others. The music video for "Ti si moj greh" had an ancient Egyptian theme, with Brena dressed as a pharaoh.
Brena became co-founder of the record label Grand Production, which was formerly known as Zabava miliona (ZaM), in December 1998.
2000–14: Pomračenje sunca, hiatus, and comeback
After her marriage in 1991, she moved to the United States and ceased cooperation with Slatki Greh. However, in 2000 they recorded another album together Pomračenje sunca, their last album to date. After eight years of absence from the music business, Lepa Brena returned in 2008 with Uđi slobodno... and Začarani krug in 2011. Both albums were major successes.
Beginning in 2012, Brena started recording sessions for two studio albums. The first, Izvorne i novokomponovane narodne pesme, an album of centuries-old Bosnian folk songs and sevdalinkas, and folk songs from countries surrounding her native Bosnia, including Serbia and Macedonia, was released in December 2013. She also covered a couple songs that were originally released in 1970s Yugoslavia. Brena dedicated the album to her ailing mother Ifeta, who sang folk songs to her when she was a child. Ifeta died the following year.
In the month after that album's release, Brena premiered two other songs: "Ljubav čuvam za kraj" on 28 December 2013 and "Zaljubljeni veruju u sve", with lyrics written by Hari Varešanović, on 12 January 2014.
On 19 December 2013, Brena, along with Dragana Mirković, Severina, Jelena Rozga, Haris Džinović, Aca Lukas and Jelena Karleuša, was a guest at a humanitarian concert by Goran Bregović at the Olympic Hall Juan Antonio Samaranch in the Bosnian capital city Sarajevo for the Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Brena arrived in Sarajevo two days before the concert so that she could enjoy the city with friends before the concert. She said in an interview: "Sarajevo has suffered and survived so much, I'm really glad to see positive people and happiness in this city".
Her wedding to Serbian tennis star Slobodan Živojinović on 7 December 1991 was a supreme media event throughout the then-still-existing Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The lavish ceremony took place at Belgrade's InterContinental Hotel. The level of interest in the event was such that Brena's manager Raka Đokić even released a VHS tape of the wedding. Their very public relationship has been providing steady fodder for various yellow media publications ever since. The Živojinović's first child, a son Stefan Emerald, was born in New York City on 21 May 1992. Their second son Viktor Ernest was born 30 March 1998.
On 23 November 2000, her and Slobodan's elder son Stefan was kidnapped by members of the Zemun mafia. After they paid a ransom of 2,500,000 Deutsche Marks in cash, he was released, having been held for five days. She has resided in Belgrade since 1980 and currently lives there with her husband, while their sons are attending schools in America. In a 2014 interview, she stated that she is still healing from the trauma of the incident.
After the debacle and family drama, she went on hiatus once again, for eight years, living between Belgrade and the American city Miami, Florida with her family. Brena and her husband have a home in Coconut Creek, Florida, where they lived during the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. She also has an apartment in Monte Carlo and another townhouse on Fisher Island, also in Florida. In 2010, Brena and her husband purchased a five bedroom villa with an in-ground heated pool on one of Miami's islands and the cost of $1.6 million.
In October 2010, her father, Abid Jahić, was severely injured when a bus hit him as he walked in the city of Brčko. He was transported to a hospital in Tuzla, where he died on 22 October 2010 aged about 82 years. He was buried in a Muslim funeral three days after his death. Brena and her two siblings, along with their mother and other family members and citizens of Brčko attended his funeral. She later regarded the months after her father's death as the most emotionally difficult time of her life. Her mother Ifeta died 21 November 2014, aged 80. She was buried in a Muslim funeral in Brčko next to her husband who had died four years earlier.
Brena was hospitalized on 27 July 2012 when she complained of pain and was diagnosed as having venous thrombosis, a blood clot. She remained in the hospital for three days, then was released. A similar incident occurred in October 2004 when a blood clot in her hand was removed. In August 2012, she was forced to cancel three months of scheduled concerts to deal with further complications with her illness.
She was again hospitalized 25 July 2014 when she fell down the stairs at a resort in Novi Vinodolski and broke both arms. She remained hospitalized for five days following the incident and spent her month-long recovery at a hotel in Novi Vinodolski. On 2 January 2015, Brena again fell down the stairs during a family vacation at Zlatibor and hurt her wrist. Unlike the previous incident, this injury did not require surgery. Because of this, she cancelled and rescheduled upcoming performances in the Bosnian towns Živinice and Travnik.
In the turbulent years of the late 1980s and early 1990s, ethnic tensions started rising in Yugoslavia and eventually led to the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Brena was one of the main tabloid targets at the time, as she was an ethnic Bosniak who sang and spoke in the Serb ekavian dialect and married a Serbian man. Several tabloids claimed she had converted from Islam to Serbian Orthodoxy and had changed her name from Fahreta to Jelena. She denied those claims intensely and has never publicly spoken about her religious beliefs although she was raised a Sunni Muslim.
In 2009, Bosniaks and Croats protested her concerts in Sarajevo on 30 May and in Zagreb on 13 June. The reason behind the protests were pictures printed of her in 1993 during the Bosnian War wearing the uniform of the Army of Republika Srpska in her besieged hometown Brčko. That combined with the fact that she herself was a Bosniak woman, born in Bosnia, who married a Serb, moved to Serbia, gave her two children Serbian names and allegedly legally changed her Muslim name "Fahreta" to the Serb name "Jelena" (which she has denied). Croatian and Bosnian protesters were angered that she was performing in their countries and called her a "traitor" and četnikuša (feminine version of chetnik). The concerts went ahead as scheduled with no incident and she claimed the uniform was from the set of a 1990 music video for her song "Tamba Lamba", in which she wore a similar uniform while filming at a zoo in Kenya for the movie, Hajde da se volimo 3. Although, when compared side by side, the uniforms are different. Brena also claimed she was only in Brčko in 1993 to rescue her parents.
- Čačak, Čačak (1982)
- Mile voli disko (1982)
- Bato, Bato (1984)
- Pile moje (1984)
- Voli me, voli (1986)
- Uske pantalone (1986)
- Hajde da se volimo (1987)
- Četiri godine (1989)
- Boli me uvo za sve (1990)
- Zaljubiška (1991)
- Ja nemam drugi dom (1994)
- Kazna Božija (1994)
- Luda za tobom (1996)
- Pomračenje sunca (2000)
- Uđi slobodno... (2008)
- Začarani krug (2011)
- Izvorne i novokomponovane narodne pesme (2013)
- Tesna koža (1982)
- Nema problema (1984)
- Kamiondžije opet voze (1984)
- Hajde da se volimo (1987)
- Hajde da se volimo 2 (1989)
- Hajde da se volimo 3 (1990)
- Në orët e vona (1982)
- Jugovizija (1983)
- Kamiondžije 2 (1983)
- Jugovizija (1986)
- Obraz uz obraz: Novogodišnji special (1991) - TV film
- Novogodišnji show program sa Lepom Brenom (2002)
- Kursadžije (2007) - TV show; one episode role
- Mahalaši (2009) - Bosnian TV series; special guest star
- Veče sa Lepom Brenom (2014) - TV show
Tours and concerts
- Mile voli disko Tour (1983)
- Bato, Bato Tour (1984)
- Uđi slobodno Tour (2008–10)
- Začarani krug Tour (2011–15)
- "Lepa Brena: Nisam ni Hrvatica ni Srpkinja, ja sam Jugoslavenka ...".
- "ISPOVEST Lepa Brena: Majka je uvek bila ponosna na mene". Blic. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
- "Lepa Brena u svom Srebreniku podržala Mirzu Selimovića pred 30.000 gledalaca". Pressing. 27 August 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
- "Lepa Brena: Majka je od mene napravila ličnost kakva sam danas". Blic. 22 November 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
- "Povratak u detinjstvo". Story. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
- "Fahreta i Faketa u šetnji". Kurir. 8 June 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
- "LIČNA KARTA". Puls. 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
- "Lepa Brena: Ne stidim se muslimanskog porekla".
- "Brena je ličila na trafo-stanicu na početku karijere". Telegraf. 17 November 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
- "Slava stigla preko noći". Novosti. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
- "Brena, bre". Vreme. 27 October 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Lepa Brena biografija". Story. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Vlasnici muzike i stranih priznanja". Blic. 3 December 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Hajde da se volimo 1 (1987) - domaći film". Dodirnime. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Lepa Brena: Ja sam obična žena koja oko sebe ne stvara nikakvu medijsku pompu". Svet. 14 July 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Lepa Brena official website". JednaJeBrena. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- M. Majstorović (22 December 2010). "Povratak Lepe Brene". Pressonline.rs. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Lepa Brena objavila novi album! Poslušajte sve pesme!". Alo. 23 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "Lepa Brena najavila novu pesmu i odala tajne!". Kurir-info. 27 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "Pogledajte Breninu novu frizuru!". Alo. 26 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "NOVOGODIŠNJI HIT: Poslušajte novu pesmu Lepe Brene". Kurir-info. 28 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "Lepa Brena gost na koncertu Gorana Bregovića: Zajedno pevaju za Rome". Svetplus. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "Lepa Brena u duhu Orijenta: Oduševila sarajevsku publiku!". Svetplus. 20 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "Drago mi je kada vidim sreću u Sarajevu". Blic. 23 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "Lepa Brena u Centralnom Dnevniku 2 dio". YouTube. May 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
- "DEŠAVALO SE DA PUKNEM I KAŽEM OVO JE KRAJ, NE MOGU VIŠE, ALI IZBROJIM DO DESET I NIŠTA OD RAZVODA!". Svet. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
- "Prokletstvo uspeha". Vreme. 7 December 2000. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Lepa Brena ispratila sina na studije". Novosti. 25 August 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
- "Otmica djeteta trajno ju je razboljela!". Dnevnik. 2 January 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
- "Lepa Brena sahranila oca u Brčkom". Kurir. 26 October 2010. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- "Lepa Brena završila u bolnici zbog tromba". SvetPlus. 31 July 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- "LEPA BRENA ZAVRŠILA U BOLNICI!". Smedia. 31 July 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- "Lepa Brena tri meseca ne sme da nastupa". SvetPlus. 29 August 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- "Lepa Brena slomila obe ruke". Radio Televizija Srbije. 25 July 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
- "LEPA BRENA IZAŠLA IZ BOLNICE 'Isplakala sam se kao nikad u životu. Izašla je sva bol iz mene'". Jutarnji. 30 July 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
- "Lepa Brena: Pala sam jer nisam htela da ispustim šoljicu za kafu". Blic. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- "Lepa Brena opet slomila ruku na Zlatiboru!". Telegraf. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- "Baš je neće... Lepa Brena pala niz stepenice, slomila je lakat". 24 sata. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- "Lepa Brena opet polomila ruku". Vesti. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- "Lepa Brena u Centralnom Dnevniku 1 dio". YouTube. May 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
- "Lepa Brena u uniformi Vojske Republike Srpske u Brčkom". 24sata. 13 May 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
- "Branitelji dijele slike Lepe Brene u srpskoj uniformi". Jutarnji. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
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