Biography of Anita Bitri
Anita Bitri was born in Saranda on January 8, 1968, to an intellectual family. Everyone admired the sweet and beautiful disposition of this angelic child. Even though she was only in kindergarten, she sang with other children, imitated songs at home, and recited without end so that at that early age she knew many poems and imitated many songs of the festivals in Albania. It is worth remembering Anita’s participation in the ‘Festival of Young Children’ in the district of Vlora, performed in kindergarten number 10 where Anita acted as a dancer in the role of the “worker bee”. The performance talent of Anita drew the attention of the members of the jury, who evaluated her as the best dancer of that festival. She was only 6 years old and Anita was a regular participant of the ‘Festival of the Young Children and the Pioneers’ in the district of Vlora, and was being appraised with a medal of honor. Just as a reminder, the songs sung by her were “My Doll” and “Agim and the Broom.”
Even very young, Anita had a great passion for music. This was part of the cultural heritage of her mother’s family, who had many musicians and singers in their clan, where her mother’s grandfather especially stood out, Rauf Ngraçani, who was born with a talent to sing. In Berat he was sought out for weddings due to his beautiful voice. The daughter of Anita’s aunt, Majlinda, was a professional singer with the musical group of Erseka; the daughter of her uncle Tafil Ngraçani, named Mira, took part in the dance troupe and the ballet in Tirana. It goes without saying that all of her mother’s clan carried natural talent in the arts, and the weddings of the Ngraçani clan turned into true competition of voices and dances.
Her special talent for music drew the attention of the professor of violin, Mr. Robert Papavrami, who was shocked by the musical ear of Anita in the competition that was conducted for the acceptance of young students for the first class of the Music School “Naim Frasheri” in Vlora. It was the first time that the professor had been confronted by such a naturally given talent. Anita, according to the professor, was one of those rare cases who had 99% talent given by God and needed only 1% of work to become a genius on violin. The professor’s intuition was unmistaken; only a year of work was needed until Robert Papavrami and Anita went before the Vlora audience in a violin duet, stunning the hall with their virtuoso performance.
The years of elementary and middle school were characterized by Anita’s high artistic maturity in the area of the violin. Anita was a good student in other disciplines as well, and apart from doing scales she was passionate for sports, and especially enjoyed gymnastics exercises and ball games played by hand (basketball and volleyball) and in that area of activity shined like a born athlete.
Anita was a dreamer of a child and very passionate about music and song. The singer Vaçe Zela was her idol; Anita dreamed of becoming like her, a famous singer. In the years of high school Anita began to secretly study and believe in the existence of God and to be blindly convinced. Everyone was surprised at her religious conviction, something which was forbidden at that time. Anita expressed without any fear that her gifts were granted from God and she saw everything from His perspective.
At the music high school “Naim Frasheri” where Anita continued from the first until the fourth year, she was characterized as a model student, especially in the violin, which was the instrument for which she continued schooling. The passion of her childhood, song, gave way to the violin and scales.
During the years 1980-1986 Anita was introduced to the Vlora public as a violinist in the orchestra of the music school “Naim Frasheri”, however, while growing up the passion for song called out to her which demonstrated to classmates and the singing professors. Everyone understood that even though she was a talented violinist, Anita had an extraordinary voice. “A sweet voice and at the same time rare,” assessed her professor. The introduction of Anita as a singer was simply an opportunity prepared by God: during a concert where Anita took part as a violinist, one of the singers became ill and so, a substitution became necessary. The friends in the orchestra who had heard Anita sing, proposed her and the effect was tremendous. The first introduction was received with unending applause by the crowd in the hall that was electrified by her beautiful voice. This was the beginning of a long and praiseworthy career that has only one protagonist: the great and unforgettable ANITA BITRI.
Her first song at the national level was titled “Hartimi dhe Debora” (Composition and Snow). In Radio Tirana’s musical inquiry about this song, Anita was valued for her brilliant performance. Her success continued afterwards with her well known song “Mos u nxito, mos u gabo” (Don’t hurry, don’t make a mistake) of Alqi Boshnjaku in the Concert of Spring 1988 where she was given first prize. Her talent couldn’t help but draw the attention of well known composers of that time. Flamur Shehu was the first that believed in Anita and would begin to work with her in many subsequent festivals of Albanian Radio Television. It is worth remembering her performance of the songs “Lulet e majit i çel në Janar” (The flowers of May bloom in January), “S’ka formulë në Dashuri” (There is no formula in love), Abracadabra, etc.
In these triumphant years she was accepted as a professional singer in the troupe of the Estrada Theatre in Vlora. Afterwards she reaped unusual success in her recital concert “Anita” on the national level.
With each year that passed, Anita was seen as a great threat to win festival awards, because from song to song, from year to year, she was confirmed as a singer without whom the festival had no meaning. None of this came except by her undeniable talent, the way which she performed song, her eye-catching look and above else, due to the fact that she had the courage to combine contemporary elements and very modern ones for that time. In the singer Anita Bitri was found everything that God granted to an artist.
Apart from singing Anita did not leave her studies behind, it was her perseverance and desire that made continuing studies possible for voice and violin in the Pedogogical School “Dhaskal Todri” in Elbasan, where in the year 1982 she graduated as a voice teacher. The director of this school, Sul Dedej, would say about Anita: “She is not only a talented singer, but also an excellent student.” Anita practiced the teaching profession for a few months, but later that which called her was singing. The Lord had designated a mission for her, to bring happiness to her own people with her magical voice.
The second recital concert “Anita” occurred with unusual success in every corner of the homeland, and made it so that she would win extraordinary popularity in every city of Albania. After a successful show in Tropoja, she was invited to come to the United States. In March of 1996 Anita arrived in the “promised land.”
During the stay in America, Anita’s artistic activity was nonstop and always growing. Anita had always been in touch with the problems of the Albanian Diaspora and had helped much in the growth of the prestige of Albanian arts. She was not simply an artist, but a zealous patriot. It is worth remembering the concerts for charity and her participation in activities for the gathering of aid for the war in Kosova as well as the charity concert that was performed on April 10, 2000 for gathering of aid for poor children of Albania. For this concert she received the praise and respect of the President of Albania, Mr. Rexhep Meidani, and during her performance of many songs was accompanied by the wife of the President himself. Anita was simulataneously an active member of the Organization of Albanian Women in America “Motrat Qiriazi.” She saw her participation in different concerts of the community as well as those charitable ones as a continuation of her musical journey. In this way, her talent and voice were wholly dedicated to Albanian concerns.
To paint the picture of her artistic activities we give you some facts:
The realization of her first album with the song “Malli” in the year 1999 and the respect shown by the Albanian Mission in New York, doing the promotion of this album in its own offices.
April 5, 1999 brought Anita’s coming to the Broadway stage not only as a singer but also as a violinist in a concert by the Organization “Madre”, well known in America.
August 12, 1999, Anita unfolded the extraordinary value of beautiful Albanian music before all the ambassadors of the world in an evening organized by the Albanian Mission to the United Nations.
December of the year 1999 brought the winning of a competition developed by the American company CPV to sing two songs on their television program.
The summer of the year 2000 was accompanied with a recital concert of Anita together with the known actor and producer Koço Devole in many American states.
November 26, 2000, on the 9th anniversary of the newspaper “Illyria”, Anita made this concert more attention grabbing, combining her magical voice with the playing of the violin.
November 12, 2000 brings Anita’s introduction as a singer and violinist, in a big concert in New York, together with Inva Mula, Piro Çako and Silvana Braçen.
The year 2001 began with another success in Anita’s artistic life, she is invited to present Albanian music in a combined American-Albanian-Turkish concert, where the artistic value of these 3 countries was manifested. At this concert she was introduced to a famous composer in America, Tina Shaffer (the composer for Celine Dion, Donna Summer, Bette Midler, etc.). Tina valued the Anita’s voice as “a angelic voice that came from heaven.”
The year 2002 was a year of intense work for the weaving of modern Albanian music with that of American.
January 24, 2003, began with Anita’s participation in one of the large concerts of the Albanian community, where Anita presented Albanian easy listening music alongside Kosovar and Macedonian singers.
The years 2003-2004 were very important years for Anita’s artistic growth. During this period she revealed the worth of Albanian art and music within the borders of America.
The year 2004 marked the beginning of her work as a songwriter, which materialized with the album “Çdo gjë është e mundur” (Everything is possible). In this album you will find all the fruit of the artistic experience and maturity of this great artist.
At the same time Anita was working and opening a new path in the art of the Albanian Diaspora, she was also interweaving our beautiful music with American pop. However, all this success in artistic life would have been possible without the support and respect shown her by the dear Albanian public which Anita worshipped and gave joyous occassions to with her magical voice. An important and decisive role was played by the birth of Sibora as well. The birth of her daughter was one of the greatest gifts that God gave to her. She surrounded that little angel with indescribable love and care. Anita taught her respect for Albania and the Albanian language, and cared for her in a special way toward her progress in school; she was a perfect mother and a good teacher. God added to her happiness with the arrival of her mother in America, because Hazbije was not only close to Anita, but at the same time served to encourage her in her artistic life, sacrficing herself for the goal of giving space to the artistic creativity of her daughter and her adored singer. Anita has been for the whole Bitri family, it’s honor and pride.
With the passing of Anita, the Albanian arts and it’s public lost a wonderful voice; Albania a zealous patriot; the diaspora, an activist and musical personality; family and friends, an artist and wonderful friend.