Back in 2018, when Ava Max first became a household name after she burst onto the music scene with the hit single “Sweet but Psycho”, she was a potential star in the making despite being relatively unknown. Perhaps one thing that is still shrouded in mystery is the heritage of her family.
Ava Max is Albanian and is the daughter of two Albanian immigrants. She was born three years after they fled the country following the change in power and fall of communism that took place between 1990 and 1992.
Although it isn’t necessarily the main feature of her music or something that she makes a regular talking point, Max has actually drawn some inspiration from the struggles of her parents and her Albanian roots.
Before we take a look at Max and her opinions on her Albanian heritage: A quick history lesson, one that informs us of the kind of situation that caused her parents and many other Albanians to flee their homeland.
The exodus that took place in Albania, which began in 1991, was an event triggered by dramatic shifts in the social and political structures in the country. The communist regime which had once held sway over the country had finally collapsed, ushering in new competitors on the political landscape.
Without getting too bogged down in the details of the different parties and their beliefs, the unrest that had begun brewing in 1990 eventually led to a complete breakdown of the country’s economic system.
Evidently, lessons were learned from the kind of implosions that other communist countries had suffered, and the flight of tens of thousands of Albanian refugees began.
Among those refugees, the parents of an as-of-yet-unborn Amanda Koci, better known as Ava Max.
In terms of where she came from, it’s genuinely fair to say that Ava Max came from almost nothing. Not to use the word “nothing” as a pejorative, either; Her parents arrived in America with nothing but a few suitcases of luggage to their name, if even that.
Max has actually mentioned this once or twice in interviews, speaking of the struggle that her family faced with a level of reverence and respect for the life that they managed to carve out for themselves.
In those rare moments that she has spoken about it, she talks of her parents’ hurried flight from the strife taking place in Albania, and how they eventually arrived in Paris, France. Though no doubt a beautiful country, they definitely weren’t there for sight-seeing and were forced to live inside a church for a year.
By the good grace of a woman that they were fortunate enough to meet whilst in Paris, they came into possession of passports. Passports that took them to America, where they found themselves living in Wisconsin.
Unable to speak English, with no possessions and barely a cent to their name, Max’s parents Paul and Andrea were forced to carve out a living for themselves in a new land. Though both parents working three jobs in order to support themselves and their newly born daughter might not be the ideal picture of the “American dream,” they made it work.
They were forced to move around a lot as a family, and for a while, it looked as if they may settle in Virginia. Max’s burgeoning musical talents took them across states to Los Angeles, though this was short-lived, and eventually they finally landed in South Carolina.
Max certainly hasn’t lost sight of that Albanian heritage, and in addition to the reverential way that she speaks of her parents’ struggles, she can also speak the language.
In an interview with Capital FM, there’s a small segment towards the end of her interview where she gets to flex those language muscles and treat us all to a little Albanian. Though it’s just a tiny snippet, she speaks it with what appears to be practiced ease.
It’s no wonder that she’s so deeply immersed in her heritage, as in addition to all of the above, she has spoken on how she feels lucky to be Albanian because it’s a country with “very strong women.”
She certainly proves that idea true, as she continues to steadily march forward headstrong in her music career!