SERBIA – Aleksandar “Sanja” Ilić was a Serbian composer and keyboardist. He founded the group Balkanika in 1998, and with them he represented Serbia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal, with the song “Nova deca”. He was previously the keyboardist of the Yugoslav band San from 1971 to 1975.
Ilić was born on 27 March 1951 in Belgrade. His father was a composer, while his brother Dragan is a musician and member of the band Generacija 5. Ilić was married to Serbian actress and model Zlata Petković until her death in 2012. They had one son together who was born in 1984.
Ilić began his music career at age 12, when he composed a song for Serbian singer Dragan Laković. At age 16, he composed the song “Baj baj baj”, which was later performed by Bisera Veletanlić at Jugovizija 1976, placing third. He graduated from the University of Belgrade Faculty of Architecture.
Ilić continued his music career in the 1970s, performing in various bands such as Vragolani and San. He later composed the music for the Red Star Belgrade football team anthem. In 1982, he composed the song “Halo, Halo” which represented Yugoslavia in the Eurovision Song Contest 1982, performed by Aska.
He later composed the song “Princeza”, which attempted to represent Yugoslavia in the Eurovision Song Contest 1984.
In 1998, Ilić founded the music ensemble Balkanika, and they performed their first concert together in 2000. With Balkanika, he represented Serbia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal, with the song “Nova deca”.
Ilić died on 7 March 2021 in Belgrade, due to complications caused by COVID-19.