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Homegrown Plus: Eva Salina and Peter Stan

A woman sings into a microphone. An accordion player watches her while he plays.

Eva Salina and Peter Stan in the Whittall Pavilion of the Library of Congress. Photo by Stephen Winick

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) This time, though, there’s a twist: Eva Salina and Peter Stan have played not one but two Homegrown concerts in the last few years…so I’ll be presenting THREE videos in this special Homegrown Plus blog.

California-grown, Brooklyn-based Eva Salina is a groundbreaking interpreter of Balkan Romani songs. Raised in the US Balkan Diaspora, Eva counts as mentors some of the greatest living Balkan musicians, as well as some no longer with us. Eva’s duo partner, Peter “Perica” Stan, is a Serbian/Romanian Roma accordionist known for his playful innovation and soulful, intuitive improvisations.

The duo’s first concert for AFC was part of the 2019 Homegrown Concert Series, filmed before a live audience (remember those?) in the Library’s Whittall Pavilion. In this concert video, they pick up and continue an interrupted legacy of empowered female voices in Balkan Romani music. Amplifying voices of past generations of Romani women musicians, Eva & Peter employ tenderness, grace, passion and a commitment to keeping these songs alive and evolving, while inspiring and teaching young people in the Balkans and the Balkan diaspora to participate in their own living traditions. Find that concert in the player below!

For their second concert, which was in the 2020 Homegrown at Home series, they shot video of themselves playing outdoors, following social distance protocols.  It’s another great selection of music, incorporating a range of Romani and Serbian styles. It’s in the second player below!

Before moving on to the oral history, I’ll mention that in that second concert they perform two songs from the repertoire of  Esma Redžepova, one of the greatest singers of her time. We were very privileged to present Esma in the Homegrown concert series back in 2016, and you can find that concert at this link.

And while I’m referring you to links for more music, Peter’s solo accordion medley was inspired by recordings in AFC’s Chicago Ethnic Arts Project collection. You can find those recordings at this link!

On stage, a man plays an accordion and a woman sings. Many people watch from the audience.

Peter Stan and Eva Salina in the Whittall Pavilion of the Library of Congress. Photo by Stephen Winick.

In the oral history, you’ll learn about Peter’s upbringing in Australia and in Queens, New York, where he was part of a large Serbian diasporic community with a strong music scene. You’ll hear about his parents speaking Serbian, but using Romanes, the Serbian Romani language, as a secret language to keep things from the kids! You’ll also learn about Eva’s youth and the influence of several crucial singers on her, including Esma Redžepova, whose Homegrown concert is linked above, and Merita Halili, whose homegrown concert you can view at this link. The musicians also tell me about Serbian Romani singers Šaban Bajramović and Vida Pavlović, whose songs are included in the second concert, as well as many other influences on their singing and playing. It was a fascinating conversation with two very engaging performers. Watch it in the player below!

You can find all three of these videos with more bibliographic information on the Library of Congress website:

Read more about Eva, and find more of her music, at her website.

Thanks for watching, listening, and reading! The American Folklife Center’s Homegrown Concert Series brings music, dance, and spoken arts from across the country, and some from further afield, to the Library of Congress. For information on current concerts, visit the Folklife Concerts page at Concerts from the Library of Congress. For past concerts, including links to webcasts and other information, visit the Homegrown Concerts Online Archive.

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