Today we are super excited to speak with Croatian superstar and treasure Zdenka Kovačiček ahead of the Dora final. For those who don’t know who Zdenka is, she was gracious enough to include a short biography of herself after the interview:
“For 60 years Zdenka Kovačiček is among top performers of Croatian musical circle, and she also built significant international reputation. Upon her return to Croatia in 70’s, she has built a rich solo career, masterfully immersing herself into rock, blues, soul and jazz genres, with occasional theatrical performances, her other love. Her greatest successes were musicals “Love, Janis” and “Ella and Marilyn”. For the latter she was nominated for Croatian Actors Award. Among other recognitions, she received Elle Life Achievement Award, Rose of Večernji list for musician of the year, Porin award for best female vocal and Award for Historic Contribution to Croatian blues music.”
Hello Zdenka – we are so excited to speak with you today! The pandemic has certainly made things difficult for performers with shows, tours, and venues being closed or postponed. How have you been doing during all of this?
I was quite lucky. I finished my new Album last year, released it in 2021. I made a few videos with my special guests, one solo video – A new me (in Croatian NOVA JA) all on YouTube. My album got very good critics, took 3rd place on the Sounguardian list of 10 best albums of the year. In Serbia – Dnevnik portal 1st place of 10 best albums in 2021. In former Yugoslavia near every single took high position on Croatian top lists. I am very glad about that. We also had 6-7 nice concerts during the summer season in 2021.
In 2021 I got a PORIN – the greatest reward for life achievement. I am still working in the Theater on a new project, playing at the moment. It is about cold Love, losing, and fashion.
I did want to ask you, as one of the top performers in Croatia especially in the genres of jazz, blues, and rock, when did your love of music first begin?
I started in the children’s theater in Zagreb when I was 5 years old, acting, dancing and singing. When I was 13, my singing career started professionally, and I was in the age of 13 already a star. I was singing a rock repertoire, popular American songs, performing at Festivals, and European tours. When I was 20, I went abroad for the next 10 years, made a Tour with Bill Haley and started to sing Jazz, Soul and other exciting music. I spent 10 years performing all over Europe, and came home in 1970 for good. I’ve made 17 albums until now, been on many TV Shows, 25 Tours in SSSR…you understand.
AS you mentioned your professional career is nothing short of impressive – Is there any advice you have for musicians out there who are just starting their careers?
My advice is learn, learn, learn. You can never be perfect, you can always be better. Only with hard work you can live your dreams.
You are also quite a talented actor – I personally loved watching your Liza Minelli impression on your website! Do you feel this background in the theatre helps you when you perform on such a big stage such as Dora?
In the SSSR I have stood on the big stage already, 30 000 people in Moscow, on Stadion in different towns of the Soviet Union. I performed in St. Petersburg, the whole month in The Theater of Musical Comedy.
But for me acting in the Theater is another story. I dreamed to be an actress, but music changed my way of life. But I had the opportunity to act in some big Musicals in The Theater of Zagreb. Liza Minelli that you saw on YouTube was my act in my TV show where I impersonated Liza and Marlene Dietrich. But in the Theater, I played Janis Joplin in LOVE JANIS, my biggest and dearest project. In my next project I played Ella Fitzgerald, and was nominated for the actress of the year in Musical. Theater was still my big Love and helps a lot.
And speaking of Dora – this is not your first time participating in the selection, if I counted correctly this would be your fourth time! What made you decide to return this year?
Yes, this is my 4th time, when I believe in a song I sing, I want to try to win Dora. Two years ago, I had a song called “Love, love, love.” I believed in that song most of all, because I sent a message from Woodstock 50 years ago that Janis sent…MAKE LOVE NOT WAR.
This year I also have a song that sends a message to the world Everything will be ok.
So, your song this year is titled “Stay of the Bright Side”. Can you tell us a bit more about the message behind the song you just mentioned?
We are living in terrible times, corona, discrimination, wars, terrorism and so on. The people need some positive thoughts, positive minds, we must believe in better times. Music is my way to send such messages.
Now we both know the winner of Dora would go to Eurovision if they win. What are your thoughts on how the contest has changed over the years?
We’ve had many very good singers and great songs in Eurovision but no luck with winning. That contest became very uninspectable, since the audience is giving the votes. I prefer the time when judges were deciding the winner. But times are changing.
This year in Dora we have many, very young and unknown singers participating. My opinion is that a country must present a singer with charisma and experience.
As we wrap-up, for those who want to connect with you – where can they find you and your music?
You can find my music on YouTube under my name Zdenka Kovačiček. My publisher is DancinBear music. My web site is www.to-be-zdenka.hr, Facebook/Instagram/Spotify – Zdenka Kovačiček. My album Zdenka Kovačiček under the label PMG was selling all over the world on vinyl (maybe there are some pieces left)!
Last question – is there any message you’d want to share with the ESCUnited readers?
My best wishes to all the lovers of good music, stay and believe in good, God bless you. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE – ZDENKA
Well Zdenka, thank you so much for taking some time to speak with us, and we wish you the best of luck during Dora this year!