FROM DIASPORA TO DIVERSITIES PROJECT PUBLICATION IS AVAILABLE!
Transformative action for diasporic art & cultural diversity management
Born in Pristina, I loved spending my childhood days in Prizren with my grandparents. I had/have a loving family which always was and still is very musical. I wasn't such an easygoing child. Very early on I started taking ballet and piano lessons, ballet not really being my thing. I studied flute for several years, constantly singing on a variety of children's festivals - I remember how incredibly happy I was winning the second prize on Akordi Kosova Music Festival at the age of seven, not knowing at that time that Albanians were supposed to win first prize, Serbs second and Turks third prize so that everybody could be happy - and that music did not have anything to do with all of this. :)

I learned to read very early and was mostly bored in school. I had success in reciting and writing, learning other languages and winning competitions (provincial reciting competitions and Zmaj literature competition were my personal favourites).

At the age of 12 I started to sing in different teenage bands and make loud music - back then my musical influences ranged from Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Janis Joplin to Snap and Soul To Soul. A bit later I discovered Nick Cave, Joy Division, Tom Waits, Laurie Anderson, Einstuerzende Neubauten, Primus, P.J.Harvey, The Stooges, Sonic Youth, Dead Can Dance and many others.
I also had short Iron Maiden and Metallica periods I can't deny. I used to sing in the band "Demode" with my friend, the drummer Ivan Cvetkovic (our band even won the Kursumlija Guitar Festival but they never gave us any prize - actually, the prize was supposed to be a qualification for Zajecar Guitar Festival, but this festival had already taken place a few months before Kursumlija - we were happy anyway and it didn`t bother us too much since we were already experienced in coping with the absurdities and injustices of the time and the place we lived in).
Then I spent much time doing studio work for and with a lot of musicians, joined many TV sessions and had numerous allergic reactions to the make-up the TV people in Pristina were using. I wrote lyrics for the compositions my mother did for other singers and made her pay me money for it. I worked in a cultural community of the town which I loved doing very much (for the cultural community I was a "one woman show" - I used to sing, recite, host shows, organize events and write), as well as I loved radio show hosting at the Radio N. I also acted in Phoenix Theater led by Nenad Todorovic. He taught me why and how to love the theater. I started working for NGOs as soon as I realized that something was wrong around me and I met a first refugee. I was one of the founders of the Post Pessimists movement, a group of young people from former Yugoslavia who worked together on cultural exchange projects, peace education, leadership skills, non violence communication, organizing concerts and art exhibitions, theater plays, international youth meetings, peace and democracy workshops, round tables and different local and global projects.

I had the luck to travel a lot and meet people who had a great influence on me. Ever since being a part of the Post Pessimists I have been able to differentiate between war profiteers and anti-war profiteers.
High school was a beautiful period (Department: Languages and Social Sciences) in some sort of a tunnel and after that I began Ethnology and Anthropology studies at the University in Belgrade, Philosophy Faculty - but that was a plan B anyway because I wanted to study jazz ever since I had heard a Karin Krog/Dexter Gordon recording called "Some Other Spring". Ninoslava Zlatkovic and Luan Osmani fed me with recordings and I listened carefully until I got infected - that was when I started to practice.
I remember that I used to buy Bulgarian copies of Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock records on the street market; the copies were extremely bad and had no credits listed, so I could never ever know for sure who exactly played the bass on a particular recording for example or simply know the titles of the compositions - but this didn't stop me from listening.

Sometimes I think that from transcribing all the lyrics I learned how to treat them. The music of Charles Mingus I got to know through Joni Mitchell`s "Mingus" recording and I can still recall my feelings of awe when I first heard Keith Jarrett`s trio.
I used to go to Belgrade on a regular basis in order to listen to concerts. And I moved straight to Graz because people told me that there was a good jazz school there and because it was not so far away from the place I used to call home, as Pristina offered me absolutely no possibilites for any further development and because studies in Graz were for free.

At the audition I decided to sing "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" when I saw Jay Clayton with an Eric Dolphy t-shirt, started studying with Mingus and finished my studies with a piece of work about Mingus. My vocal teachers were many, but I learned most from Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan, Tom Lellis and the musicians I worked with.

Under its multicultural melting pot mask, Graz still proved to have deeply ingrained and complex ethnic and racial divisions. I went to school, sang, met people and listened to the concerts - and at the time the war in Kosovo started to be official I got a job as a musical performer in "The Black Rider/The Casting Of the Magic Bullets" musical (Grazer Schauspielhaus). Sandy Lopicic Orkestar grew out of the orchestra that played "The Black Rider".
Three days before the first SLO concert took place NATO bombs started falling on everything I knew. I haven't been in Pristina since February 1998. My family fled Kosovo and suddenly I was alone and out of money in Graz - my friends started to die while I was helpless and desperate. And as I wasn't speaking German language at that time, I was even more desperate while watching CNN News about the bombing.
Suddenly I was confronted with a completely new life situation, so the only thing I could do was to sing and write about it. With SLO I could at least show to the people the rich cultural heritage of the land I come from. Two times I sent my writings to competitions in Austria (Getaways/Fluchtwege/True Stories Megaphon competition and Amerlinghaus literature prize) and both times I won.

Up to now, I've been performing on many international jazz, world music and folk festivals, singing concerts and gigs with numerous bands and artists, doing recordings, rehearsing, implementing promotional events, organizing concerts and readings, publishing articles in "The Collage", "Megaphon" and "Le Courrier des Balkans", modelling for Andrea Schlemmer and Biljana Arandjelovic, working for the French brench of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly and cooperating with Norwegian People's Aid.
Apart from playing music, I am a member of the Cultural Advisory Council of the city of Graz, I work on a book about Pristina, wrote my PhD thesis (under the supervision of Dr. Franz Kerschbaumer) about Southeastern musical influences on the Austrian jazz scene at the Institute for Jazz Research (University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz), occasionally work in the theater, teach singing and vocal technique and enjoy my work with the "Chmafu Nocords" (Verein fuer experimentelle Musik und alternative Kunst).