Nada Mamula (Belgrade, 9th January 1927 – Belgrade, 11th October 2001).
Her maiden surname was Vukicevic.
Her father, Miodrag Vukicevic, lost his life few months after Nada was born.
She liked singing from the day one along with Vuka Seherovic, due to whose influences she started to sing Sevdalinkas.
She sang on a stool, along with a serving tray, which acted as a tambourine. Those where Nada’s first singing steps.
Noone mentions Nada’s professional career start at Radio Belgrade anymore.
In 1946 she delivered her first ever professional performances as Nada Vukicevic along with Danica Obrenic and accordionist Voja Trifunovic.
Her beginnings at Radio Belgrade have been forgotten.
Sevdalinka, which she performed outstandingly well, made her into a Bosnian, even though by birth she never was one.
She was not very well supported at Radio Belgrade – even her family didn’t like her performances at Radio Belgrade – so her works have been preserved by Radio Sarajevo mostly.
Nada was born to sing Sevdalinkas, with her heart, soul and voice.
She came to Sarajevo after she married Nikola Mamula, a rail track worker.
She wanted to sing even though she was working for rail track.
She decided to sign up for an audition as a solo singer and not a member of a group anymore.
She was immediately passed through, as the judges became mesmerised by her deep alto voice – until then female Sevdah voices only included meco sopranos and sopranos.
Along with Jozo Penava, who taught her how to sing Sevdah and Zaim Imamović, she was amongst one of the most popular Sevdah singers of that time.
Whenever there was a power shortage in town listeners would get greatly upset because they could not hear Nada and Zaim’s recording on public speakers in town.
Her first performed Sevdalinka was ‘Ah meraka u veceri rane’ – she was very glad to come back to performing that song.
People used to say that everything would stand still when Nada was singing Sevdah on a radio.
They had to abandon their house duties to be hear to enjoy her song.
In private life Nada was a great human being.
She was not chasing money or fame.
She sang from her heart, trying to make the world a more beautiful place even if for just one moment.
Nada Mamula performed for Tito many times.
Once that was at Brioni, along with Radmila Dimidj, Tosa Elezovic, Ismet Alajbegovic Serbo and Zaim Imamović – only for Tito and Jovanka Broz.
She rarely used to speak about these events, but she once branded that event as a ‘big honour’.
When asked what her favourite songs were, she would immediately answer: ‘Gdje si duse, gdje si rano’, ‘Mene majka njeguje i gleda’ and ‘U djul basci’.
Today she is mostly associated with the song ‘Mujo kuje konja po mjesecu’, ‘Bosno moja’ and ‘Omer beze’ – some of them she has recored over ten times even in America and Holland.
However, all of the fame and happiness which she has lived through in her life could not be a substitute for one missing aspect of her life – Nikola and Nada were unable to have children.
She never used to talk about that, but amongst the records which she used to listen to were two songs both with one common motif – life without children.
This is why towards the end of her life she said: ‘I’m living life through memories and talk to pictures!’
Towards the end
Her best friend was Ksenija Cicvarić.
The destiny wanted it to be that in February 1997 Nada was the last person to see Ksenija alive.
She talked about how she came to the hospital, saw Ksenija lying down with a mask on her face.
Nada said to her: ‘Come on dear, get up, let’s get out of here, to sing.’
Ksenija took a mask off with a shaky hand and with tearful eyes said to Nada: ‘You are going home, but I’m NOT!’
90s, apart from taking awar mother and the best friend, brought along much bigger evil – war in Bosnia and Croatia.
Nada helped out refugees by bringing them food and kept supporting them until they moved away to Canada.
She was very upset by the war, and could not believe that what generations had built up before her and during her time could have all been destroyed now.
War in Bosnia brought an end to Nada Mamula’s career.
Her song could no longer be heard in Serbia.
Even if it was heard, someone else was singing it … in Serbian language.
That was the last blow to her which she could not take.
Sad and revolted, she threw away all the memories, photos and newspaper articles.
Two of her records remained and two more records mentioned earlier on.
She no longer wanted to speak to the media and was turning all of them away.
Everyone apart from Ekrem Milic, who was alongside her from the beginning until the very end and who was the first to play her song in Sarajevo after the war.
And that’s the end of one great Sevdah vocalist.
Today the only things that remain are Nada’s songs, a few photographs and her fans who dearly love her.
[A loose translation of Ivan Mamula's biography of Nada Mamula]
Published on 13th September 2009