Folk Art PA
Artists

Mensura Berberovic

Bosnian Ballads

Born in Vlasenica, Bosnia, Mensura Berberovic fled the genocide of 1995 and came to the United States as a refugee, settling in Erie.  She received her citizenship in May 2004.  Her love of traditional Bosnian ballads moved her to create the first and largest Bosnia cultural event in North America, attracting Bosnians all over the US to share traditional dancing and singing sevdalinka

“In sevdalinka there is no hate, only loveā€”love for country, love for children, love for husband, and nostalgia for home. This is my weapon against hate, to sing these songs and keep them alive.”

Sevdalinka, are the ancient love ballads of Bosnia. Mensura Berberovic came to Erie a refugee fleeing genocide.  She says, “The songs come from a long time ago when young men courted young women.  Sometimes they are about a lover singing to the birds or river, asking them to give a message to his sweetheart. Young men don’t sing under young women’s windows anymore but today you cannot have a wedding or any sort of celebration without singing sevdalinka”

“Under Communism it was against the law to sing many sevdalinka. My mother taught them to me anyway.  Now I am here in the USA and I am free to sing them. If I can keep ten sevdalinka alive to another generation, then I have passed on a real treasure.”

“The music I sing is Bosnian Sevdalinka. Sevdalinka is a kind of love ballad that originates in Bosnia. Other Balkan countries have adopted the Sevdalinka. The Sevdalinka is sung by Catholics, Muslims, and Protestants. The songs come from a long time ago when young men courted young women. They could not date, they could not touch, they could not even meet in public. The young man late at night would sing Sevdalinka under the window of his sweetheart. Bosnians still sing Sevdalinka as a way of remembering the past. Young men don’t sing under young women’s windows anymore but today you cannot have a wedding or any sort of celebration without singing Sevdalinka. Even when the government hosts special guests they must include a concert with Sevdalinka. Bosnian singing contests use Sevdalinka and they are featured on Bosnian television.”