Ana Popović: Born 1976

Though not your traditional blues artist, Yugoslavian singer, songwriter, and guitarist Ana Popović has devoted her life to spreading and celebrating the blues. Raised in Belgrade, Popović was introduced to the blues by her father at an early age. Feeling a calling to the instrument, Popović took up the guitar as a teenager and soon formed her first band, Hush. Following the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, she began playing blues festivals in Greece and Hungary, eventually performing as an opening act for American blues artist, Junior Wells. Hush recorded their debut album in 1999 when Popovic moved to the Netherlands to study jazz guitar at the Conservatory of Music.

While on a trip in Germany, blues guitarist Bernard Allison invited Popović to jam with him on stage at the end of his show. Popovic seized the opportunity and gave Allison a copy of Hush’s latest record, and Allison then gave the album to executives at Ruf Records in Germany. They recognized Popović’s talent and allotted her a position in their Jimi Hendrix tribute compilation and a deal of her very own.

Months later, Popović was on the pilgrimage every blues-obsessed musician around the world hopes to one day take — she was headed to record in Memphis, Tennessee. The record in question, Hush!, would go on to be well received, and in the spring of 2001, Popović would perform at the Memphis in May Festival alongside Bob Dylan, the Black Crowes, and Ike Turner.

In 2003, Popović was nominated for a prestigious W.C. Handy Blues Award for Best New Artist of the Year. She also became the first European artist to perform at the Handy Awards. Two years later, Popović released her first live compilation, Ana! Live in Amsterdam, landing four Living Blues awards, including Best Female Blues Artist and Most Outstanding Musician.

In the years following, Popović would release several blues albums, including, Still Making History, Unconditional, Milton, Trilogy, and Can You Stand the Heat, which peaked at No. 3 on the blues charts.

In 2018, Popović would journey to Nashville to record an album with GRAMMY Award-winning blues musician and producer Keb Mo’. The album, Like It on Top, included ten tracks written to represent varying modes of female empowerment. In 2021, Popović was nominated for Blues Rock Artist of the Year at the 42nd Blues Music Awards for the seventh timing running.

Ana Popović is now celebrating over 20 years as a successful touring blues musician. Popović’s life-long devotion to the blues is a significant contribution towards keeping this historic genre of music alive. Her many accolades highlight not only her immense talent but her ranks amongst the greatest guitarists of all time.

Written by Victoria Shaffer

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