November 28, 2020 – With her second solo album, ONA, Croatian American musician Thana Alexa Pavelic explores her Croatian heritage. It’s just been nominated for a Grammy! Here’s an introduction to a singular talent and the sound of her Croatian roots
The songs of Croatian American jazz musician and singer Thana Alexa Pavelic have never sounded more like her life experience. On her second album, ‘ONA’, we finally hear her Croatian roots colliding with the cool, considered and contemporary world of the New York jazz scene. Legendary for its jazz for over 70 years, the city of New York is full of ambitious musicians chasing the vibe and reputation of its heritage. It can be tough to stand out, to sound original. With ‘ONA’, Thana Alexa Pavelic has done just that, and earned a Grammy nomination for her efforts.
The epic title track of the Grammy-nominated ‘ONA’, on which the exploration of Croatian music and feminine experience – as well as Croatian language – can be heard
Published in 2015, Thana Alexa Pavelic’s debut album ‘Ode To Heroes’ was similarly well accomplished. But, it seemed to more reflect her American experience rather than embracing the whole. Born in New York to a father from Zagreb and a mother of Dubrovnik heritage, Thana Alexa Pavelic spent every summer in Croatia and so was hardly uprooted when the family moved back to Croatia when Thana was 13. She returned to America to complete her university studies – music and psychology.
In comparison to ‘Ode To Heroes’, new album ‘ONA’ sees Thana Alexa Pavelic replacing her femininity with feminism – the album is inspired by the experiences of Croatian women, most of all her mother and her grandmother. Not just evident in the language of the album title, for the first time in her solo output, on ‘ONA’ you can hear Croatian language, traditional Croatian music and the Croatian female experience in the songs of Thana Alexa Pavelic.
Thana Alexa Pavelic’s jazz rendition of the Tears For Fears classic – the song has been a popular part of her live set for quite some time
It is doubtless these Croatian influences that separate Thana Alexa Pavelic from the rest of 2020’s jazz hopefuls. They are partially responsible – alongside the superb execution and production of the songs – for the Grammy nomination. It is the first-ever Grammy nomination received by a Croatian musician.
And, rather than simply take from the Croatian experience, ‘ONA’ also gives back. Thana Alexa Pavelic has dedicated a donation from each sale of the album to Zagreb-based human rights organisation Solidarna and their #spasime campaign (which supports victims of violence). Whether Thana Alexa Pavelic wins the Grammy for Best Vocal Jazz album or not, with ‘ONA’, she has placed a Croatian voice on the world’s music stage in more ways than one. If she is successful, then the award will surely make its way to Croatia at some point, held in the hands of a Transatlantic artist now exploring in music her Croatian heritage. Good luck at the Grammys Thana Alexa!