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Ardit Gjebrea’s Projekt Jon

As market reforms and migration transformed Albania in the early 1990s, Ardit Gjebrea began mixing traditional folk music with world music and Italian pop. The resulting album, Projekt Jon (1997), provided a new model for song—Western and cosmopolitan, yet firmly rooted in the fertile soil of the nation—against a backdrop of deepening political uncertainty about the very future of Albania.


The Ionian Project announced itself with the frenetic beating of the daullë and the traditional cries of Albania’s highland shepherd. This sprawling collaboration between singer-songwriter Ardit Gjebrea, folk singer Hysni Zela, producer Paul Mazzolini, and a team of crack studio musicians in Italy, had an outsized ambition: to transcend the small postsocialist nation-state’s borders, imaginatively crafting through sound a new home in Europe for its citizens. But as Gjebrea prepared to launch Projekt Jon, violence prompted by the collapse of widespread pyramid schemes threatened to tear Albania apart. And for the intellectuals concerned about growing cracks in the symbolic foundations of the Albanian nation-state, the album came to serve as a referendum on the nature of postsocialist citizenship.

Ardit Gjebrea’s Projekt Jon

  • Nicholas Tochka

    Discusses the album that mixes traditional folk music with an Italian pop sensibility and what that means about European identity—just as market reforms were transforming citizenship itself in postsocialist Tirana.
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  • Book Details

    Imprint: Bloomsbury Academic
    Publication Date: 22-02-2024
    Format: Paperback | 5 x 7 3/4 | 160 pages
  • About the Author

    Nicholas Tochka is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Melbourne in Australia. He is the author of Audible States: Socialist Politics and Popular Music in Albania (2016) and Rocking in the Free World: Popular Music and the Politics of Freedom in Postwar America (2023).

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