In one of my last articles, I wrote about Jerusalem and its history. This article is about music and about Vukovar, the city on the Danube River in north-eastern Croatia. Unfortunately, Vukovar, like Jerusalem and many other cities in the world, felt the horrors of war. In Croatian modern history, Vukovar had become a hero city which many historians called the Croatian Stalingrad, because of its heroic defence in the Homeland War. Vukovar is an example of how peace talks can change all that terrible war suffering. Peaceful integration of the north-eastern part of Croatia surely saved several thousand soldier and civilian lives. I am sure that this example can help in many conflicts in the contemporary world; how negotiation and common sense can defeat war.
Today, Vukovar is peaceful and calm, a city where recently the tenth anniversary of Bonofest, a modern Christian music festival was celebrated under the slogan of “God in Glory”. The focus of Bonofest is the creation of spiritual music and the formation of youth within the sphere of spiritual music. Bonofest is known as a festival where many popular singers and authors perform songs dedicated to love and faith.
I had the opportunity speak with one of the performers, Marija Husar, one of Croatia's most famous singers and also Bonofest's art director. “It is incredibly important for us to show musical and spiritual quality, and we sincerely hope that Bonofest, a spiritual music festival, will offer us all more hope and optimism for a brighter and better future, especially for today's youth,” she said. When I asked Marija about her musical journey, she explained that music and art were, from early childhood, simply parts of her life. She started out in a children's choir named Zvjezdice (Stars), which later “produced” many famous Croatian singers. But Marija mentioned that music was her father Franjo's dream; he simply lived for it. Marija and her sister Ivana were members of Divas, one of Croatia's most popular female pop quartets.
Marija said that Divas was an excellent example of what love for polyphonic singing can produce. During its 10 year span (1995-2005) Divas won four Porins, Croatia's most prestigious music award including Best New Artist, Song of the Year, and two Porins for Best Group. Ten years since, Marija said that Divas was a result of their vision, imagination, faith in themselves and courage. Marija believes that Divas imposed very high standards on music production and concert organization which are difficult to achieve in the music industry. Today, Marija has built her own solo career which includes three studio albums: Family, Dance Christmas and Magical Love Story. Marija is known as a singer of spiritual music and love songs. When I asked her why she chose spiritual music, she replied that the most supreme music is music dedicated to God and that, in general, the most beautiful art in human history is art dedicated to God. For her, the greatest happiness, peace and faith can be found singing spiritual songs.
I would like to emphasise that when I first heard her voice live, I was convinced that she belongs to this world, that her songs are intended for many people, in many countries, on all continents. When we listen to her music, we can hear her soul, we can hear all the beauty that God gives to artists. I am very sure that this Croatian singer will find global success with her new English language spiritual album, and who knows, we may soon be blessed with Marija's amazing voice in major venues around the world.