Few things are sexier than a woman who can play a guitar. Ana Popovic can really play a guitar. Born in Serbia and raised in Belgrade during the Molosovic era, her passion for American blues music was born during the nightly jam sessions her father would host in the family home. “When I was 6 or 7 I could tell Stevie Ray from Buddy Guy,” she remembers.
Popovic studied music at conservatories in The Netherlands, and has made a big name for herself across the pond and last year she has relocated to Memphis and is ready to make American audiences familiar with the “Serbian Scorcher.” Her willingness to venture outside of her comfort zone has led to success for Popovic. “We traded our safe and secure life in Amsterdam. In Europe my name is pretty much established, especially in countries like Germany and France. I could probably play festivals and clubs there the coming 20 years and make a real good living. But you gotta always ask yourself if that’s what is satisfying.”
With half a dozen albums under her belt, Popovic has shared the stage with the likes of Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal and her music is still evolving. Her latest album “Can You Stand the Heat,” which was released this year under the name Ana Popovic & Mo’ Better Love, is an experiment in old school funk. Says Popovic, “I met Tony Coleman, producer of ‘Can You Stand the Heat’ and long time drummer with BB King’s band while I was opening shows for BB King, and we talked about what kind of music we would like to make. And we came to the same ideas: blues has got to be groovy, even when you play a slow blues you need to be moving your body and moving to the beat. We wanted an old school funk record like Mandrill, WAR and James Brown – those type of ’70s funk jam bands.”
The sight of the dainty blond decked out in a skin tight mini dress calmly and meticulously banging out guitar riffs may be a bit of a shock for audiences, but it’s a welcome one. But Popovic, who has been dubbed the “female Jimi Hendrix,” is unfazed by her novelty. “I never took the remark ‘You’re good: for a girl’ as an insult, although maybe some of those where meant that way. At the age of 17, I liked the fact that it was unusual, I tried hard to be different. Nowadays there are so many girls with guitars, and that’s good.”