Zana is a Serbian pop group from Belgrade.
Formed in 1979 by guitarist Radovan Jovićević, keyboardist Zoran Živanović and vocalist Zana Nimani, Zana's first releases saw large mainstream popularity. Until the mid-1980s the band had moved from their initial new wave and synthpop sound towards pop rock. After the departure of Zana Nimani in 1984, Jovićević and Živanović continued to lead the band, changing several vocalists. During the 1990s, Zana worked as a trio consisting of Jovićević, Živanović and vocalist Jelena Galonić, moving towards pop and away from Serbian rock scene. In 1999, Jovićević left the group, leaving Živanović and Galonić as the only official members of Zana, the two moving towards folk pop sound.
The beginnings (1976-1979):
The guitarist Radovan Jovićević and the keyboardist Jovan Živanović "Kikamac" started to work together in 1976, playing in several high school bands. On a dance in Saint Sava elementary school in Belgrade, on which their band Suton (Dusk) performed, Jovićević brought his (at the time) girlfriend Zana Nimani. She sang, and had her first performance with Jovićević and Živanović. They soon got a term to record in Radio Belgrade's Studio VI, where they were spotted by lyricist Marina Tucaković, who had previously worked with Srđan Marjanović, DAG, Josip Boček, YU grupa, Bisera Veletanlić, Ambasadori, Dado Topić, Zdenka Kovačiček, Slađana Milošević, and others. She got interested in the band, and soon became not only their lyricist, but also their official member. In 1979, Jovićević, Živanović and Nimani started to perform under the name Zana. The first lineup of Zana also featured the guitarist Igor Jovanović, the bass guitarist Bogdan Dragović and the drummer Aleksandar Ivanov.
Zana Nimani years (1979-1984):
In 1980, Zana recorded their first 7" single with the songs "Nastavnice" ("Hey, Teacher") and "Sveta". They were initially declined by PGP-RTB, but soon after signed by Jugoton, which released the single, on which a children choir made a guest appearance. The band started performing live, with alternative saxophonist Paul Pignon occasionally performing with them. They had their first performance in Belgrade in November 1980, performing as an opening act on Generacija 5 concert in Pionir Hall. In 1981, Jugoton refused to give Zana unlimited period to record their debut album, so the band moved to PGP-RTB, for which they released the single "Leto" ("Summer"), intentionally releasing it in May. As "Leto" had success on the market, Jugoton agreed to Zana's terms, so the band signed back to Jugoton.
The band's debut album, Loše vesti uz rege za pivsku flašu (Bad News Accompanied by Reggae for a Beer Bottle) was released in 1981. It was recorded in Jugoton's Studio VI, and produced by the band members themselves. On the album, Živanović was signed as "Kikamac" only, because before the album release his fees were by mistake often paid to Zoran Živanović "Hoze" of the band Mama Co Co. The album brought hits "Jutro me podseća na to" ("Morning Reminds me of It"), "On" ("He"), "Miševi beli celu noć" ("White Mice All Night") and "Loše vesti" ("Bad News"), with altered lyrics, because Jugoton demanded the original to be changed. The band promoted the album with a concert in Dadov Theatre. On a fund-raising concert in Sarajevo they performed as an opening act for Bijelo Dugme. The December 1981 mini-tour across Serbia was stopped by Aleksandar Ivanov leaving the band due to his army obligations, but he was soon replaced by Pavle Nikolić.
The band's second album, Dodirni mi kolena (Touch My Knees) was recorded in Sweden during May 1982, with the help of saxophonist Goran Nillson, percussionist Byl Gunnar Byllin, and multi instrumentalist, recorder and producer Tini Varga, who also coauthored lyrics for two songs on the album. During the album recording, Tucaković stopped being the band's official member, but continued to write lyrics for them. The album brought synthpop-oriented hits "Dodirni mi kolena" (the song was later recorded in French by Tereza Kesovija, who achieved huge success with it abroad), "Majstor za poljupce" ("Kisses Maestro"), "13 je moj srećan broj" ("13 Is My Lucky Number"), and the album saw high number sales. However, in September, the same month when the album was released, Jovanović left the band due to his army obligations, and was replaced by Aleksandar Radulović "Futa". At the end of 1982, the band went on a tour across Serbia, Macedonia, Herzegovina and Dalmatia, however, the concerts saw bad reviews, as the band failed to reach standards of the studio recordings. In May 1983, Jovanović and Ivanov returned to the band, and Dragović and Radulović left. After leaving Zana, Dragović and Radulović formed the band Zamba (which also featured the guitarist Nikola Čuturilo and the drummer Predrag "Bata" Jakovljević). The band's new bass guitarist became Miloš Stojisavljević "Cajger", a former member of Generacija 5.
In August 1983, Zana recorded their new studio album, entitled Natrag na voz (Back to the Train), also recorded in Sweden and produced by Tini Varga. The album's main hit was the duet "Jabuke i vino" ("Apples and Wine"), sung by Nimani and Željko Bebek (although the band initially considered Daniel, Oliver Mandić, Jura Stublić or Branimir "Džoni" Štulić for the song). The album's second hit was the song "Mladiću moj" ("My Boy"). At the time of album release, the end of 1983, Ivanov left the band, and was replaced by Predrag Jakovljević (formerly of Zamba). In February 1984, Zana went on a promotional tour, but as the audience showed little interest in their concerts, they ended the tour in March. Soon, Jovičić and Kikamac went to serve the army, the band went on hiatus, and Nimani decided to leave the band (retiring from music after the release of her only solo album, Noćas pevam samo tebi, trans. Tonight I Sing only for You, in 1986).
Nataša Gajović and Nataša Živković years (1985-1990):
In 1985, Jovićević and Živanović reunited Zana with the new vocalist, Nataša Gajović. With the album Zana, also known as Crvene lale (Red Tulips), released in 1985 and produced by Saša Habić, they moved towards pop sound. The album brought the hit "A što, a što" ("Why, Why"). Their following album, Otkinimo noćas zajedno (Let's Get Crazy Tonight Together), released in 1987 and produced by Dušan Petrović "Šane", brought folk-inspired hit "Vejte snegovi" ("Fall Heavily, Snows"), which featured Boki Milošević on clarinet. The 1988 album Zana, produced by Tini Varga, featured mumerous guest musicians: Hrvoje Marjanović "Harma", Mladen Vojičić Tifa, Laza Ristovski and Miroslav Benčić Sedak. The album brought hits "Oženićeš se ti, udaću se ja" ("You Will Get Married, I Will Get Married"), "Vojna pošta" ("Military Post") and "Vlak" ("Train").
In 1989, Nataša Gajović left the band (retiring from music and moving to Saudi Arabia). Most of the members also left the band, so Jovićević and Živanović recorded the album Rukuju se rukuju (They're Saying Goodbye, They're Saying Goodbye), with the new vocalist, Nataša Živković, and studio musicians. The album was released in 1989 and produced by Jovićević, Živanović and Laza Ristovski. The title track was the album's biggest hit. The track "E, moj doktore" ("Oh, Doctor") featured folk singer Dragana Mirković on vocals, and the song "Napravite mostove" ("Build Bridges") featured girl group Šarmerke on vocals. After only two years spent in Zana, Nataša Živković joined Hare Krishna and withdrawn from the scene.
In 1990, in order to celebrate ten years of activity, Jovićević and Živanović released the compilation album Najlepše pesme 1980 - 1990 (Prettiest songs 1980 - 1990).
Jelena Galonić years (1991-1999):
With Zana's fourth singer, Jelena Galonić, Jovićević and Živanović recorded the albums Zana, released in 1991, featuring the hit "Nisam, nisam (Devojka tvoga druga)" ("I'm Not, I'm Not (Your Friend's Girlfriend)"), and Tražim (I'm Searching), released in 1993, featuring the hit "Priča se, priča (Da Rusi dolaze)" ("They're Saying, They're Saying (That the Russians are Coming)").
At the beginning of 1996, the compilation album Zlatni hitovi 1980 - 1995 (Golden Hits 1980 - 1995) was released, featuring two new songs, "Modrice" ("Bruises") and "Gušti, gušti" (a cover of the song by Istrian singer Alan Vitasović), the videos for which were recorded at Thailand. The album Zanomanija (Zanomania), released in 1997, featured a remixed version of "Modirce" and a cover of Time song "Da li znaš da te volim" ("Did You Know that I Love You"). In the autumn of 1998, they released the live album Zana uživo (Zana Live) recorded on their concert held in Sava Centar on November 1, 1997. The album featured singer Brankica Vasić as guest.
In 1999, they released the album Prijatelji (Friends), which featured sound resembling their early works. On the song "40", which deals with the life of a middle aged man, Živanović sang for the first time. Beside Zana members, the authors of the lyrics were Marina Tucaković and Bora Đorđević.
Zana as a duo (1999-present):
In 1999, Jovićević moved to the United States of America, leaving Živanović and Galonić as Zana's only official members. In 2001, the two released the album 21, which featured mostly folk-oriented songs written by Živanović on the lyrics by Galonić and Marina Tucaković. The album was produced by Žika Filipović and Živanović and Galonić themselves. In 2004, the two released the album Kao nekad (Just like Before), which featured remixes of "Vejte snegovi" and "Dodirni mi kolena".
In June 2008, Živanović and Galonić got married. On April 29, 2010, Zana celebrated thirty years of work with a concert in Sava Centar. Nataša Gajović and Nataša Živković made guest appearances on the concert.
The song "Mladiću moj" was covered by Serbian pop punk/power pop band Oružjem Protivu Otmičara on their 1996 album BarbieCue. The song "Dodirni mi kolena" was covered by Croatian pop singer Severina on her live album Virujem u te (Najbolje uživo!) (I Believe in You (Best of Live!)) and by Serbian pop punk band Lude Krawe on their 2007 cover album Sve tuđe (Everything by the Others). The song "Vejte snegovi" was covered by Bosnian progressive metal band Heaven Rain on their 2012 album Second Sun.
In 2006, "Mladiću moj" was polled No. 54 on B92 Top 100 Domestic Songs list. In 2011, the song "Majstor za poljupce" was voted, by the listeners of Radio 202, one of 60 greatest songs released by PGP-RTB/PGP-RTS during the sixty years of the label's existence.