21-year-old Pop singer Dua Lipa may only be beginning to launch her career in the United Kingdom, but back in the country of her heritage she is a star. The hotly tipped Billboard no.1 emerging act has racked up millions of streams of her “dark pop” traks on YouTube. In August, Dua’s concert at Germia Park in Prishtina, Kosovo – her first in the country – was something of a grand homecoming. Roads in the area were blocked as 15,000 fans swarmed the park to catch a glimpse of the girl who hasn’t forgotten her roots. Lipa’s parents are ethnic Albanians from Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. Like many other Albanians, Dua’s parents migrated to the West, because of violence and oppression in the 1990s, and their daughter was born in London, England.
Kosovo, which has been independent from Serbia since February 2008, is a country on the rise, shaking off the stigma of being warn torn to compete culturally and economically with the rest of the world. “Kosovo is a very small place and we’re very patriotic, always telling people where we’re from. We’re very proud and that’s a big part of who we are,” said Lipa. “If anyone is trying to do something outside of Kosovo they will support them and get the word out. And it’s hard sometimes when people ask me where I’m from to pinpoint exactly where, as I feel like I’m from both London and Prishtina equally and call both home.”
"Kosovo is a very small place and we’re very patriotic"
- Dua Lipa
Magnum nominee Diana Markosian travelled with Lipa on for the landmark occasion. Markosian’s work is deeply personal and explores themes of identity and traces familial ties, something she found chimed with her trip with Dua.“ I was interested in her identity as someone who is from Kosovo, but was raised elsewhere,” says Diana, who captured intimate moments with her family and friends and affectionate meetings with fans.
“I don’t think it all hit me until my flight to Pristina. My entire row was flying specifically to see her in concert. We talked about Dua, and what she meant to them. To say they were fans would be an understatement. For them, she was a symbol of something bigger. When you come from a small country like Kosovo, things get noticed. At the airport, I was met with a sign that read ‘Dua Lipa’. I think fans expected me to be her, and were met with a bit of disappointment when I arrived. It was all a bit funny to me, given I hadn’t known who she was a few days prior.”
For Lipa, a profession as a pop star is all part of the family business, her musician father Dukagjin Lipa encouraged her from an early age. “Growing up in a musical household I guess is one of the reasons I’m doing what I’m doing now,” she says. “I’ve always been so heavily influenced by music that I feel it was inevitable to fall into this career path.” Her upbringing also instilled in her a sense of duty towards those less fortunate in her homeland. “When me and my dad first started thinking about doing this shows in Kosovo and Albania and how we wanted to do it.. It didn’t feel right to take money so we decided to open up the Sunny Hill Foundation and put 100 per cent of the ticket proceedings from the Prishtina show into the foundation,” she said.