Lifetime Achievement Award – Bisera Veletanlić

Traditionally, Nišville Jazz Festival awards the greatest Serbian musicians with the Lifetime Achievement Award: This year, the award goes to the renowned jazz and popular music singer Bisera Veletanlić. Bisera will perform at the opening of Nišville 2017, on August 10.

Bisera Veletanlić is one of pop music’s biggest names in the ex-Yu region, and certainly one of the most original jazz singer in the Balkans. From her very beginnings – the performances in American clubs in Germany and her first singles and success at pop music festivals, Bisera had always been deep into jazz, influenced by the artists such as Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Bisera is also usually accompanied by the best Serbian jazz musicians (which was also the case at her first Nišville jazz festival performance in 1995). On the other hand, when it comes to pop music – Bisera collaborated with some of the best Yugoslav composers (Kornelije Kovač, Arsen Dedić and many others) and also proved her musical abilities in contemporary music in her recent collaboration – both in the studio and in concert with the band Darkwood Dub. Bisera Veletanlić certainly had a significant impact on the development of one of the best Serbian jazz musicians of the younger generation – her nephew Vasil Hadžimanov with which she often performs.

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Probably the greatest compliment Bisera ever received in her musical career came from the legendary Sarah Vaughan herself. When she heard Bisera singing at the jam session after the concert in Belgrade, she told her: “What are you doing here? Come with me to America.” Bisera thanked her for the compliment and modestly replied that there are certainly much better singers there than she was, after which Sarah said: “But, God, none of them are white! White people in America do not know how to sing like you” .

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