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Šaban Bajramović

Background information
Born April 16, 1936(1936-04-16)
Niš, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Died June 8, 2008 (aged 72)
Niš, Serbia
Genres World music
Romani music
Occupations Singer, songwriter
Instruments vocals
Years active 1964 – 2008
Labels Snail Records, Arc Music, World Connectio

Šaban Bajramović (Serbian Cyrillic: Шабан Бајрамовић) (April 16, 1936 – June 8, 2008) was a Romani musician from Serbia.



He was born in Niš where he attended primary school for only the first four years. On quitting school, he picked up his musical education on the street.

When he was 19 he ran away from the army out of love for a girl. As a deserter, he was sentenced to three years prison on the island Goli otok, but as he told the military court they could not hold him for so long as he could survive, they raised his punishment to five and a half years. He survived as he was a good goalkeeper in the prison football team. Because of his nimbleness and speed, they called him "Black Panther". Soon he forced his way into the prison orchestra that played, among other things, jazz (mostly Louis Armstrong, Sinatra, and sometimes John Coltrane) with Spanish and Mexican pieces.

After Goli otok, his intensive music career began. He made his first record in 1964. He is believed to have composed 650 compositions. Šaban also composed the official Roma people anthem "Djelem, Djelem" in 1964[1][2]. Later, in 1969, new lyrics for the song were written by Zarko Jovanovic[3].

In 2008, it was revealed that Bajramović was living impoverished in Niš with serious health complications and was no longer able to walk. The government of Serbia intervened to provide him with some funds.[4] He died in Niš on June 8, 2008, from a heart attack.[5]


Over the years, his music has been constantly stolen, copied, and imitated by both famous and unknown musicians. Promises and contracts have proven worthless. Actually, he's never been interested in protecting his work. Where others would have earned millions, he's lived as he's always lived: from day to day, making music, going wherever he wants, and not recognising any limits at all.

Dragi Šestić - Mostar Sevdah Reunion

Saban Bajramovic is clearly a giant talent, comparable in his own way to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or Mari Boine Persen, someone capable of bringing their music to life with such vivid spirituality that it vaults with ease over the most impenetrable cultural barriers. His voice combines the anguish of rai with the soulfulness of fado - a sort of Balkan gypsy jazz

Andy Gill - The Independent, UK, February 15, 2002


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