Croatia celebrated the 34th Fête de la Musique on June 21, the first day of summer. While a variety of artists rushed to the city squares to sing it away, the residents of Dubrovnik, the country’s most beloved tourist town, celebrated by hosting celebrated cellist Ana Rucner and pianist Oliver Poole.
Ana invited her dear friends and fellow Eurovision 2016 participants Deen and Dalal Midhat-Talakic to cheer her on from the front row. So they hightailed it from Sarajevo to take their place at the amphitheater on top of Dubrovnik’s iconic Mount Srd.
The night before the big event, our wiwibloggers Mario and Deban caught up with Dalal on the terrace of the famous Rixos Libertas hotel.
Wearing a simple plunging tunic with decorative folk elements, she exuded fresh summer style as we chatted about her career, what it was like singing for Pope Francis, new projects and her Insta-famous cat Fiona.
Although she started singing at the age of four or five, her musical career didn’t launch until high school, when Dalal and her friends formed a five-piece group called Erato.
“We didn’t do anything when we were five (members) because they just couldn’t cope with school, performing and choreography, so they just went and we became a duo,” she says.
And that’s when things really took off. Erato’s popularity extended beyond the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the group collaborated with popular Croatian singers including Jacques Houdek (Nina Kraljic’s coach on “The Voice”) and Tony Cetinski (who sang for Croatia at Eurovision 1994).
The duo split in early 2009 after 10 years.
As the interview rolled, we learned that her Eurovision 2016 song “Ljubav Je” was indeed Dalal’s own project and she, as a true lover of collaborations, decided to share it with her closest colleagues.
She also reflected on friendships she made with Balkan singers throughout Eurovision promo season: “We couldn’t hang out with Nina since we weren’t in the same hotel, so we hung out with Montenegro’s Highway and Serbia’s Sanja Vucic. We met her (Sanja) in Amsterdam during the Eurovision in Concert. We met with Highway in Budva when we were performing.”
From the joy of Eurovision we skipped to the delicate topic of loss. On the first day of 2015, Dalal’s older sister lost her courageous fight with Panhypopituitarism — a rare condition caused by an inadequate or absent production of the anterior pituitary hormones, which often results in slow gait, slow speech and very low body temperature.
Dignified as always, Dalal explained the events leading to her sister’s death.
“When she was very young she was in England in secondary school when she was diagnosed with the rare disease of Panhypopituitarism – and it’s something to do with a gland not working properly. And after years and years of medical attention and hospitals she had fallen in a coma for 8 days and then her heart just stopped beating. It was really hard for me. We were like twins, she was just one year older than me.”
She dedicated the acoustic version of her single “Gdje sam Ja” to her sister.
“It is a hard song to sing, but I just love emotions and that people understand everything through my songs.”
But plenty of love and happiness remains in Dalal’s life, perhaps most evident in her six-year-old daughter May. If you follow Dalal on Instagram you may be aware of her daughter’s love for animals.
“She would love to have anything, like fishes, turtles and dogs, but I have an allergy to dog’s hair. But I can have a cat. We got her from an animal shelter in Sarajevo because we have a big problem in Sarajevo with dogs and cats and that’s why I didn’t want to buy an animal. May just loves her. Fiona just goes to her every time she’s in the bed. I don’t understand that, but I think they are connected and they are best friends forever.”
BONUS: As icing on the cake, Mrs. Talakic revealed exclusively to wiwibloggs that her new single will be released around the end of the summer. So far we know that it’s either self-penned song or written by ex-Yugoslavia star and EMA 2014 finalist Nermin Puškar, and that it’s not in the flavour of her hit “Bombon”.
We’ll just have to remain patient until we find out…