Severina's Rainbow Tour: A Croatian Story
Ask showbusiness manager Zoran Škugor, as Večernji list did on Monday, and he'll tell you that Severina's flop in the diaspora is due to her lack of a 'Croatian story' compared to Miroslav Škoro and Marko Perković Thompson, who literally and metaphorically perform their ethnicity at every opportunity:
'She doesn't number herself with the schlager singers [zabavnjaci] nor among the representatives of Dalmatia, but she has more and more of a pop-folk accent [na narodnjak]. [...] I'm sure that now she'll turn towards Serbia as much as she can and it's no wonder she chose Goran Bregović to write songs for her.'
(And look what happened when he was only her arranger.)
Severina's successfully toured Australia in the company of other Croatian singers, though (usually involving fetching pictures of Seve cradling a koala) - and the complaint that Croatia (diaspora included) is too small a market for Croatian singers is hardly new to autumn 2006. Indeed, two weeks ago Severina's manager Tomislav Petrović depicted the tour's national neutrality as an advantage:
'Unlike performances organised by Croatian parishes where musicians usually play two or three sets during the evening which also includes dinner, this time it's a real concert tour. We don't think that [church-organised] type of performance is bad, but Severina has outgrown it.
'[...] I didn't ask whether they [Arx International] are Croats, Serbs, Slovenes... Kazakhs. Their nationality really isn't essential to the job, and so far they've fulfilled all the conditions we agreed. Personally I don't have a problem on that question, and I even see that Croats are already working with Serbia in a big way. It's ultimately out of place to talk about the nationality of the people organising the tour, just as it's out of place to talk about whether Severina will be singing in America to Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks... or Kazakhs again? Severina will sing to everyone who goes to her concert.'
It's been clear for some time that Severina also belongs to Serbian showbusiness as far as the media there are concerned: add up her invitations to TV Pink awards shows and the extent of her coverage in Serbian tabloids like Svet. As a 'regional' star, she's surrounded by yet more sets of people and firms looking to promote, represent and generally make money out of her image.
Throughout spring, Severina was receiving (and taking part in) the musical version of the debate: if it's Croatian, can it be anything else ex-Yugoslav? And if it includes anything else ex-Yugoslav, can it be Croatian at all? The collapse of her American tour perhaps reflects the offstage version of the same problem (and in fact, there are a few hints that 'Štikla' didn't help Severina's standing with the Croatian diaspora). Can a Croatian singer have another ex-Yugoslav audience? And if she has another ex-Yugoslav audience, can she be Croatian at all?
Political circumstances and the structure of the media have changed since Doris Dragović fell foul of the same questions in 1999 with her (in)famous performance in Montenegro for New Year's Eve. (At the invitation, it tends to be forgotten, of a Croatian priest.) Nonetheless, the answer to whether Severina is just a Croatian star continues to be summed up by the British comedy catchphrase: 'Yeah but, no but'...