Popular singer songwriter receives state national recognition

Jaromír Nohavica, photo: Chinese Man Records

One of the country’s most popular singer songwriters, Jaromír Nohavica, is one this year’s recipients of the highest state distinction presented by president Miloš Zeman. On this occasion, we’ll be listening to some of Nohavica’s best-known songs.

Jaromír Nohavica,  photo: Chinese Man Records
Jaromír or Jarek Nohavica was born in 1953 in the Moravian city of Ostrava and started his career by writing lyrics for other musicians, such as the singer Marie Rottrová.

By the time he released his first album called Darmoděj in 1988, his songs were already well-known to the public thanks to his fans, who circulated amateur recordings from his concerts.

A melancholic poet with a gentle voice, Nohavica was mainly inspired by the late singer songwriter Karel Kryl, and Russian singing poets Vladimir Vysotsky and Bulat Okudzhava.

But he can also be a witty and accurate observer of everyday life. He often uses the local Ostrava slang, and as a local patriot, he dedicated several songs to his hometown Ostrava.

Apart from playing the guitar, Nohavica also plays a special type of accordion called a heligonka, which first came to the fore in his 1996 album called Divné století or Strange Century.

In 2007 Nohavica made headlines when his fellow songwriter Jiří Hutka wrote a song about a song about him called udavač or the snitch, referring to his collaboration with the communist secret police in the 1980s.

Despite the scandal and despite recent criticism that his songs have become increasingly superficial and populist, the charismatic performer is as popular as ever not only in the Czech Republic, but also in Poland and Slovakia.