Through the sheer force of her extraordinary talent, bold vision, and larger-than-life personality, pop singer Bleona has achieved international stardom and emerged as a global icon. From her first performance in Albania as a teen, critics spotlighted her powerful vocals and charmingly brash persona. Since, she’s sold millions of albums, won multiple music awards, graced dozens of magazine covers, and performed for hundreds of millions of fans — all while operating as a completely independent artist.
As part of her fast-growing acting career, Bleona has won the hearts of the writer, director and producers of the soon be worldwide release television series, “Paper Empire”. A smart and edgy crime drama. Bleona plays a vocalist, starting at the bottom and attempting to make it completely on her own in a county foreign to hers. (Sounds Familiar) Bleona stars along with Denise Richards, Wesley Snipes, Robert Davi, Steve Gutenberg and Anne Archer.
Bleona also appeared alongside Nicolas Cage in the 2018 movie “#211” and co-starred with Dolph Lundgren in 2017’s “Dead Trigger”. Fresh off her role as a celebrity judge on the “X Factor” Albania, she also joined the jury of “Your Face Sounds Familiar” (a celebrity-impersonation competition broadcast in over 60 countries). And to cement her status as a fashion trailblazer, Bleona recently made headlines around the world by hitting the Vanity Fair Oscar Party where her presence was an automatic showstopper on the red carpet. Oscar night followed her much-talked-about appearance at the 2014 American Music Awards.
Bleona continues her trajectory into global pop fame with original HIT songs that daringly expand her sound. Those songs include her summer 2018 single “I Don’t Need Your Love”: a deeply personal track that finds Bleona defining her strength as a ballad singer. “I’d gone through a very turbulent time in my private life, so it felt right to channel my struggles into the art of music, to bare my pain so all that follow me understands where I came from, and how negative energy can be beaten,” Bleona explains. “I’m still a dance singer and will keep on making dance music, but it is important to me that I relate to those that are experiencing what I did. I want to share with them and to let them know that they’re not alone.”
“Bleona teamed up with producers Rob Knox (Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Britney Spears) and Fede Vindver to create the stripped-back yet soaring “I Don’t Need Your Love, two cohorts of her longtime collaborator, the hitmaking super-producer Timbaland. In another game-changing departure, the edgy and artfully shot video for “I Don’t Need Your Love” marks Bleona’s long-awaited directorial debut.
Bleona stated that directing, ‘I Don’t Need Your Love” was a passion of mine, and because I always wanted to personally present my vision to my fans. ‘I Don’t Need Your Love” was the most perfect song in which to do so.
Bleona also directed the video for “Monster” — her slow-burning, irresistibly epic follow-up to “I Don’t Need Your Love.” Filmed at the majestic Villa Erba (a 19th-century villa near Lake Como in Italy), with its lavish costumes supplied by Marjan Malakpour (a stylist for Cher and Shakira), the video beautifully matches the song’s spellbinding intensity. “‘Monster’ is another ballad, about a fairy-tale love gone wrong,” says Bleona. “It’s about ending up with a man who thinks he can tame you, but you’re an artist and your boundaries cannot be restricted. It’s a story very close to my heart.”
Both “I Don’t Need Your Love” and “Monster” are set to appear on Bleona’s EP, due out early next year. In bringing the EP to life, she’s purposely tapped into the fearlessly defiant spirit that’s long fueled her music. “My songs are rebellious and all about girl power,” Bleona says. “I’ve always had a strong do-it-yourself attitude and believed that if something’s important to you, you will find a way to make it happen.” With all the inspirational sway of a true pop legend, Bleona wants to create songs that empower her listeners as well.
Bleona first revealed her vocal talents at age five, when she was cast in the Albanian answer to The Mickey Mouse Club. At 13, she began sneaking away from her rigorous, finance-focused high school studies (“My parents basically said, ‘You will not be tra-la-la-ing your whole life’”) to rehearse six days a week in a nearby theater — her homeland’s equivalent to Broadway, where she landed starring roles. At 14, Bleona took a major step forward in her musical career by singing at Albania’s National Music Festival (the country’s premier music event), where she was recognized as its youngest performer. The following year, Bleona took the same festival by storm with a crowd-thrilling performance of her song “Let Me Be Free,” casting off her shawl mid-song to unveil a racy blue-leather ensemble that the producers had warned her against wearing. “When I finished my song, the place was dead quiet for about three seconds,” Bleona recalls. “And then everyone went crazy screaming, and the next morning I was on the front page of every newspaper.”
Not content to rest on her overnight fame, Bleona spent much of 1996 through 2000 touring Albania and gaining her reputation as an electrifying live performer. In 1998, she put out her debut album I Run My Own Game — a self-funded, self-released effort and utter anomaly in her country. “Albums weren’t even a concept in Albania then,” Bleona points out. “Everyone just lived off the one song they’d sung in the festival.” By 2001, she’d released two more albums (1999’s “If You Really Love Me” and 2000’s “I Could Care Less”) and landed a deal to perform 80 concerts a year all over Europe for the next four years. In the meantime, Bleona earned her degree in acting from the Academy of Arts in Tirana, starring in such plays as Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. She also continued to turn out chart-busting albums, including 2002’s “Need to Learn How to Love” (which she supported with a multi-city tour attended by up to 50,000 people per show) and 2003’s “You Weren’t Man Enough For Me” (which sold an unprecedented 300,000 copies within months of its release). After releasing “Boom Boom” in 2005, she offered up 2007’s “Mandarin” and saw her career climb to dizzying new heights as the album sold more than 800,000 copies around the world.
Soon after performing in America for the first time — at New York City’s Webster Hall — Bleona decided to make her way to the U.S. “I’d hit the ceiling back home, so it was time for me to go global,” she says. “I was on tour in Germany and Timbaland had just come out with ‘The Way I Are’ and it was just so clear to me: ‘Why don’t I go to America and make a record with this guy?’ I didn’t even have a visa, but that didn’t stop me” Her plan was set in motion when she was invited to perform for Donald Trump at his private membership club Mar-A-Lago, a performance that led to Bleona’s making the acquaintance of 16-time Grammy Award-winner David Foster, who encouraged her to relocate to Los Angeles.
After moving to L.A. in September 2010, Bleona crossed paths with Timbaland at the Grammy Awards and began pursuing a collaboration with him. About a year later she made her American debut with the Timbaland-produced “Show Off” (feat. Petey Pablo), then joined forces with the producer again for 2012’s “Pass Out” (feat. Timbaland and Brasco). Also in 2012, Bleona enlisted members of Timbaland’s crew (including his official DJ Freestyle Steve) for a spur-of-the-moment European tour that she organized and booked herself in a matter of days. “We got to the first concert and there’s 70,000 people there, and the guys are like, ‘Whoa, is this for us?’” Bleona remembers. Blown away that “the same girl who’d spent a year hanging around Timbaland’s studio asking for a song” was able to draw a sold-out stadium-sized crowd, Bleona’s tour mates reported back to Timbaland to clue him in on her diva status and star power. “After Tim saw the footage of that first concert, he told me, ‘All right, when you come back, we’re gonna speak in a different language,’” she says.
Working with A-list producers like RoccStar (Usher, J.Lo), Fuego (Sia, Iggy Azalea), and Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (Beyoncé, Lady Gaga), Bleona dedicated herself to forging her own distinct sound — a beat-heavy brand of high-passion dance-pop. As she sharpened her vision, Bleona also scrubbed the internet of countless videos that had amassed upwards of 40 million views. “They weren’t at the level that I’m at today, and they don’t reflect who I am as an artist,” she says, adding: “Now that they’re not online anymore, they’ve become like collectibles for my older fans.”
Arriving in September 2013, Bleona’s single “Take It Like a Man” shot to #7 on the UK charts entirely on the strength of its fierce attitude and club-ready beat, while 2014’s fabulously tongue-in-cheek “F**k You I’m Famous” made its way into steady rotation on SiriusXM. That same year, Bleona proved to be the breakout star of the Bravo TV reality series Euros of Hollywood, winning over viewers with her offbeat humor and outrageous personality. And in spring 2015, she took the stage of the Albanian edition of The X Factor to unleash an unforgettable, can’t-look-away performance of her single “Take You Over.” Stepping from a metal cage, the startlingly gorgeous force of nature tore through her massive club anthem while getting up close with her wildly adoring crowd.
Over the years, Bleona has built up a tremendous fanbase within the LGBT community. Along with serving as the grand marshal at the 2013 Las Vegas Pride, she became the only artist (apart from Lady Gaga) to be invited to perform two years in a row at the legendary White Party — an honor that included headlining the 2014 party’s 25th anniversary celebration. She’s also invested in the world’s most illustrious fashion photographers (including Vogue’s Vincent Peters) and art designers to create the luxurious and elite “BLEONA” — a global brand that’s unfailingly consistent with her music, personality, and message. In addition to launching www.shopbleona.com (an e-commerce site featuring custom jewelry, apparel, and shoes), she also launched a fashion line in partnership with ShoeDazzle, which has become a bestseller for the site.
As she finishes up her forthcoming EP, Bleona is also planning for an extensive tour and pushing forward with her acting career. Through it all, the unstoppable pop enigma has embraced the ups and down of playing by her own rules and following through on an unlikely dream, rising up from a place where opportunities are limited to none and transforming herself into a triple-threat superstar. “When I was a little girl, I set a goal to be an icon in my country,” she says. “When that happened, I needed to set a new goal, and that’s why I am here. I could have stayed back home and enjoyed my status there, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and take it to the next level. And I love the challenge of that more than anything. If you tell me, ‘No, this can’t be done,’ then guess what? That’s exactly what I’m going to do.”