She stood on stage representing her native Yugoslavia in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1990. On Palm Sunday, her voice will fill St. John the Apostle Catholic Church, 2600 W. Central Ave., Minot.
Tajci Cameron, who is better known throughout Slavic and church circles as Tajci (pronounced TY-chee), will be stopping in Minot as part of her 2012 Lenten tour.
According to her website, her program, titled "I Thirst, The Crucifixion Story, "presents the way of the Cross through powerfully moving music. Tajci brings up poignant thoughts on Christ's sacrifice, and draws the audience on an emotional journey."
Tajci, a Croatian-American singer shown here playing the piano, will be performing two
concerts in St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Minot on Palm Sunday. This will be Tajci’s third time performing in Minot. “She wanted to come back because so many people were flooded and struggling,” said Darcie Haider, a secretary at the church. “She wants to give the gift of her concert to people.”
The North Dakota leg of Tajci's tour begins on March 28, when she will be performing at St. Pius V Catholic Church, in New Salem. The following day, she will be singing at Church of Saint Wenceslaus, in Dickinson. Her tour schedule includes the Church of St. Anne in Bismarck on March 30 and Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Strasburg on March 31.
Two concerts will be held on Sunday, April 1, at 2 and 7 p.m., said Darcie Haider, a church secretary at St. John the Apostle.
This will be her third visit to Minot, said the Rev. Dave Zimmer, of St. John the Apostle. "It's not just us, we arranged it so she had at least five, if not more, (visits) in the diocese of Bismarck."
"She wanted to come back because so many people were flooded and struggling," Haider said. "She wants to give the gift of her concert to people."
During the drama with the flood, Tajci kept up to date with what was going on, said Maya Brlecic, Tajci's office manager and public relations coordinator.
"They have lots of friends and acquaintances in North Dakota. They were in touch all the time," Brlecic said.
In fact, Tajci recorded a song, "Till We Meet Again," "a song for all of her friends and all the people of North Dakota who suffered that big catastrophe," Brlecic said.
"I'm actually the one that told her about it," Zimmer said. "When she was here for Christmas, I told her about my mom and dad and they had this special song, 'Till We Meet Again.' It was a song that was uplifting for people that were waiting to rebuild or be reunited during (World War I). It was my mom and dad's song, and I was telling her about the song. She remembered that."
She recorded the song and dedicated it to Zimmer's parents, as well as the people of Minot who lost their homes and were struggling.
"She did that as a gift to us," Zimmer said. "I was very touched by it, naturally. I never had anyone with that kind of caliber do something of that nature."
What also makes her trip to Minot even more special is the fact that the 2 p.m. concert will mark her 900th concert of her American career.
"It's definitely a jubilee," Brlecic said. "She's very, very excited that she'll be celebrating her 900th concert in North Dakota. Every time she was touring North Dakota, the concerts there not just the ones in Minot were very well attended. The North Dakota people, they just love her."
Zimmer explained that he first heard of Tajci while he was in Croatia, visiting an orphanage. At the orphanage's giftshop, he overheard one of Tajca's songs. When he asked who this was, he was told that the voice belonged to Tajca, who was a Croatian pop singer.
"She was top of the record charts over there," Zimmer explained. "She had a huge following."
Tajci's rise to fame began at the age of 19, when she represented Yugoslavia in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1990 with her song "Hajde da Ludujemo" ("Let's Go Crazy). At the age of 21, though, she walked away from everything to move to the United States. She moved to New York, changed her name and did menial jobs.
"In her newfound anonymity, Tajci found her answers in prayer," her website states. "In her faith and in the freedom it brought her, she found the inspiration to compose music and sing about her new experiences."
"She started doing these religious concerts, using her gifts," Zimmer explained.
Zimmer purchased one of Tajca's CD's and when he came home, he noticed a telephone number on the back of it and decided to call. He spoke with Tajci's husband, Matthew Cameron, about having a concert in Minot, but there was one problem: Minot, let alone North Dakota, was a far away place.
Zimmer promised to line up some churches for a North Dakota tour; the following day, he called Cameron to tell him that several churches were lined up.
To figure out a rough number of how many to expect for that first concert, free tickets were issued.
"I think we gave out over 700 tickets," Zimmer said. "We had a packed house here, way more than what our building holds."
The next year, it was Tajci and her husband who contacted Zimmer to ask about coming back to North Dakota, and five or six concerts were lined up for a Christmas 2010 show. Then again, in the fall of 2011, Cameron called and announced that there would be a 2012 Lenten tour, and could Minot be included?
"That's how she's coming back the third time," Zimmer said.
Normally, Tajci performs one concert per parish, but because of the size of Minot's parish, she decided to up it to two performances.
"These people, they just like her," Brlecic said. "And Fr. Dave, he's convinced it will be packed."
"Ever since (she performed in North Dakota), they have been wanting and begging her to come back," she said. "All those churches where she performed were just (full of) amazing folks, and night after night, they had full houses. They've been wanting her to come back really, really badly."
"It was just a huge success, here and in every place they visited," Zimmer said. "Her husband told me that they haven't received the kind of reception they received in North Dakota anyplace else in the country."
Zimmer said that "I Thirst" is very moving.
"I feel very privileged that she's coming here to perform, especially during the Lenten season," he said. "I think, for a lot of people who attend, it might be the highlight of their Lenten season. It's very spiritual and very moving. She's just a wonderful person (with) an amazing talent."
This year, tickets will not be needed the concert is still free, although a freewill offering to help cover expenses will be held and patrons are invited to show up at the church, which is located at 2600 W. Central Ave.