Lepa Brena - Career


Fahreta's nickname "Brena" was given to her by her gym teacher. Later on, Serbian showman Minimax added the prefix "Lepa" (English: beautiful), creating the stage name "Lepa Brena".

In 1980, she started singing with the band Slatki Greh when the group's original singer Spasa left the band because of her marriage. Saša Popović, the band's frontman, was initially opposed to the idea that Lepa Brena should be the band's new singer, but later changed his opinion. She subsequently moved to Novi Sad and then to Belgrade. Brena started to sing in hotel TURIST in Backa Palanka. She and Slatki Greh released their first album Čačak, Čačak in 1981. The album was written mostly by Milutin Popović-Zahar, and the career-manager was Vladimir Cvetković. That same year Lepa Brena and Slatki Greh appeared in the first part of Yugoslavian classic comedy Tesna koža, which raised their profile and brought them almost instant fame. She would again team up with songwriter Milutin Popović-Zahar for her second album Mile voli disko, was released in 1982. The album had a few hit songs: "Mile voli disko", "Duge noge", "Čini Gajle", "Ovaj život vara nas", "Danas plačem ja, a sutra ćeš ti" and "Dama iz Londona".

She is arguably the most popular singer of the former Yugoslavia, and a top-selling female record artist with more than thirty million records sold.

In 1983, Lepa Brena ended her collaboration with Milutin Popović-Zahar and Vladimir Cvetković. That year Lepa Brena and Slatki Greh participated in Jugovizija (Yugoslav selection for the Eurovision Song Contest) with the song "Sitnije, Cile, sitnije" (which was a track on the extended play of the same name, Sitnije, Cile, sitnije). Her appearance caused confusion among the audience, since Jugovizija 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.

The following year, Brena and the band started a cooperation with a new manager Raka Đokić. Bato, Bato, her 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, she 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 singer outside their home country.

Her next three albums, Pile moje (1985) and Voli me, voli and Uske pantalone (both 1986) would propel her to the throne of the Yugoslav music scene.

Along with these albums, she 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 has already become the most popular public figure in Yugoslavia and strengthened the position of undisputed sex symbol. Later that year, her manager Raka Đokić came up with the idea that her next studio album should be followed by a movie in which would Lepa Brena should play a major role. This idea was successfully implemented in 1987 when the motion picture Hajde da se volimo was filmed. The film 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.

Based on the success of the original, two sequels were produced: Hajde da se volimo 2 (1989) which was followed by the studio album Četiri godine, and the film Hajde da se volimo 3 which was followed by the studio album Boli me uvo za sve in 1990.

In the turbulent years of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Lepa Brena held more than three-hundred and fifty concerts yearly, and would often hold two concerts in one day. Lepa Brena set a record by holding thirty-one concerts consecutively at Dom Sindikata, and seventeen concerts consecutively at the Sava Center. In the late 1990s Brena held a concert at Levski stadium in Sofia (Bulgaria), with an audience of 100,000 people.

Brena and Slatki Greh released their second-to-last album together: Zaljubiška, in 1991. Her manager, Raka Đokić, died suddenly on 30 October 1993.

Besides her career as a singer, she is one of the founders of Grand Slam Group and Grand Production (formely Zabava miliona/ZaM) since 1998.

In 1994, after a nearly three-year break, Brena recorded her first solo album Ja nemam drugi dom, and held a famous "Concert in the Rain" at Tašmajdan stadium which was attended by 35,000 people. After that, she recorded two more solo albums: Kazna Božija (1995) and Luda za tobom (1996).

Lepa Brena and Slatki Greh released their twelfth and final album together in 2000: Pomračenje sunca.

After eight years of absence from making music, Lepa Brena returned in 2008 with a studio album, Uđi slobodno.... The album contained ten new songs, nine of which were written by Brena's old song-writer Marina Tucaković and Aleksandar Milić Mili. She then released her sixteenth album, Zacarani krug, in 2011. Both albums were major successes.

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