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Kreslin was born in the village of Beltinci in the Prekmurje region of Slovenia, then part of Yugoslavia. He began his musical career in his student years, first coming to acclaim as the lead singer with the rock group Martin Krpan. He later continued playing a mixture of Slovene folk and rock music with the Beltinška Banda, a folk group from his native village, whose other members were all over 70 years old, and the group Mali Bogovi. Both groups (with him) often perform together, mixing several generations onstage together.
Today he is one of the best-known and highly esteemed Slovenian musicians and songwriters, drawing on Slovene folk and ethnic heritage, occupying his own niche in the Slovenian music scene. He has been referred to as an ethno-revivalist for his modernization of Slovenian folk songs such as "All the Wreaths Have Wilted". Modern Slovenian rock bands such as Siddharta have worked with him. He has also performed with R.E.M., the Dubliners, Allan Taylor, Hans Theessink, Vlatko Stefanovski, and the Walkabouts.
His annual concerts at Cankar Hall in Ljubljana have become a traditional event in the city's yearly cultural calendar. He is constantly performing worldwide and has opened twice for Bob Dylan and some other world acts. His genre is a type of blues mixed with Slovene folk music. In addition to performing songs in Slovenian, Kreslin's repertoire also includes songs sung in English, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and Italian,as well as folk songs sung in various dialects (from his native Prekmurje, Međimurje, the Slovenian Littoral, Istria, and elsewhere).
Many of his songs and poems have been the basis for books and films, most notably Namesto koga roža cveti, which inspired Feri Laišček's award-winning book of the same name and was the basis for the movie Halgato. He has also been an actor in several movies, including Halgato and Slavic Angel, and the play Three Other Sisters in Milwaukee.
In 2009 he was invited by Yale University to be honored at a Master's Tea, and there he was awarded the honorary title of Quincey Porter Fellow. His poems have been published in Poetry in Translation and Confrontation, and in 2012, Guernica Editions will publish his book of poems, Instead of Whom Does the Flower Bloom.
I had heard the music of Vlado Kreslin and found it marvellous, a magic fusion of so many Mitteleuropean motifs that put me in mind of everything from the films of Emir Kusturica to the novels of Bohumil Hrabal …So much great modern art and writing has risen out of the polyglot world of central Europe…I realize that Kreslin’s music is entirely of his own world, and yet enlarged that world to include anyone who wished to be a part of it.” (Richard Flanagan, Australian writer and director, best-selling author of Gould’s Book of Fish).