Internationally renowned guitarist Ana Popovic has built her career on defining and describing, on her own terms, the essence of American music, simultaneously pushing limits, bending genres, and reinventing her music and herself with each new record.
Ana’s new album, Power, released on May 5, 2023, brings those dynamics to the fore and, in the process, turns this set of songs into both a powerful and personal tale of survival through faith, determination and tenacity.
Ana recalls, “In the fall of 2020, while the world was dealing with Covid, I found myself in a dire and devastating situation. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Having lost my mom three years before the same illness, my world just crumbled. My family had just built a beautiful new home in Manhattan Beach, California. But now it seemed that everything we had looked forward to was coming to a crashing halt. “It left me with so many uncertainties. We didn’t know what to do. Should we move back to Europe? Should I abandon my music career and simply stop performing? I didn’t know what choices I had or what path I should take.” Then, her bass player and musical director, Buthel, gave her the support and encouragement she needed. “You can’t retire! You’re born for this,” he told her. “We’ve got work to do. We need to touch people with our music.” “He simply has that gift, Ana says; he can build people up!”
Consequently, between 14 chemotherapy treatments and flights back and forth between L.A. and Amsterdam, where she received her treatments, Ana and Buthel connected on Zoom to write the material that coalesced as the new album. Then scheduled demos, recordings, re-recordings, and live shows with her band took place between her treatments. She never missed a show. “Buthel was there for me, taking care of the band, overseeing the music, even choosing wigs and hats with me, encouraging my new look and our new sound while helping me through every difficult day on the road,” Ana insists. “So needless to say, this record brought my spirit the salvation it needed, and ultimately, the music and my ’64 Fender Stratocaster saved my life. I’m convinced now more than ever that guitars CAN save lives.”
The songs shared on Power testify to her conviction. Recorded with an all-star line-up of topnotch musicians from Detroit, Dallas, and New Orleans, like the powerhouse drummer Chris Coleman (Beck, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder), she and Buthel wrote and produced the album, which was then mixed and mastered by multi-talented Grammy Award and Dove Award-winning producer Jeremy Bishop Hicks. The results confirm the emotional investment that allowed each entry to become a testimonial to Ana’s potency and prowess. With her masterful guitar solos, always in the service of the song, ranging from sizzling rock and blues guitar to smooth and sultry jazz licks, her vocals range from electrifying to soulful, Ana and company veer from hard stomping blues to relentless rhythms and searing soulful refrains. “Our sound is so eclectic – it’s a gumbo of rock, blues, gospel, soul, funk.”
Today she is stronger and more driven than ever before. She wants to inspire people: no matter what life throws at you, pick yourself up and come back twice as strong. She is a mother of two and is enjoying her second hobby – interior design. She’s learning a new instrument – playing drums. Popovic performed 150 shows in 2020, and she’s directing music videos. The “Recipe Is Romance” music video is, more than anything else, a strong message to all women that “you can still feel attractive, you can feel sexy, feel good in your skin, even if you’re still recovering after such life struggles, you can reinvent yourself and find power in that.”