If you’re in a Šibenik café and you hear some old crooner warbling from the sound system then the chances are it will be Arsen Dedić, the Šibenik-born poet and singer-songwriter who has ruled supreme as the king of Croatian chanson ever since his first album Čovjek kao ja (A Man Like Me) was released in 1969. Dedić’s best-known songs are wistful evocations of past loves, accompanied by sophisticated piano-and-orchestra backing. Easy listening perhaps, but with balls.
Maksim Mrvica (1975- )
A product of the Croatian Academy of Music and the Budapest Conservatoire, the Šibenik-born pianist is one of the world’s prime practitioners of popular classical music, selling albums by the bucket-load in a range of global markets – especially in the Far East where Mrvica is a major star. Male-model looks and extravagant stage-shows have all played their part. Look up the 2003 hit album The Piano Player (EMI) to find out what all the fuss is about.
Mate Mišo Kovač (1941- )
Born in Tribunj north of Šibenik, Kovač was one of Croatia’s (indeed Yugoslavia’s) biggest selling pop stars of the Sixties and Seventies, and still is a stadium-filling attraction. His songs are melodic and sentimental in a way that’s traditional for the Adriatic coast, and with long black hair, bushy moustache, and glinting medallion strategically hung around the neck, he remains every inch the old-school Dalmatian charmer.
Dražen Petrović (1964-1993)
Of all Šibenik’s native sons, Dražen Petrović is the one who inspires most in the way of unconditional love and respect – not just in Croatia but across the sporting world. The extraordinarily gifted basketball player won trophies with Šibenik, Cibona Zagreb, Real Madrid, Portland and New Jersey before his tragically early demise in a car accident. Named European Player of the year six times, and posthumously enrolled into Basketball’s Hall of Fame in 2002, he was a unique and irreplaceable talent.
Goran Višnjić (1972 -)
The most immediately recognizable product of Šibenik is Goran Višnjić, who played Dr Luka Kovač in ER from 1999 until 2008. Before that he was famous for playing Hamlet at the Dubrovnik Festival seven years in succession, and for his role as Risto the driver in Michael Winterbottom’s Welcome to Sarajevo in 1997. Currently filming the Millennium Trilogy (based on the Scandinavian crime novels of Stieg Larsson), his face looks likely to remain stamped on the popular consciousness for some considerable time.
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