It was one way to learn about the blues. But she thinks for most blues players, going too far with studying jazz is ultimately a waste of time.
Popovic said, "I think it's great to study, great if you can get into any of these high end jazz studies programs, but be aware of what you want to achieve as a musician. Stick to that plan."
The problem with a musician spending a lot of time studying outside his or her field is more about business than art, she explained.
"I've seen a lot of players -- rock or pop players, too -- they kind of spend a lot of crucial time studying jazz when they could be making their name [in their chosen field]," she said. "They spend their time being a jazz player when, ultimately, they don't want to be one."
Last fall, Popovic moved to Memphis, where she's still studying the blues and trying to make sense of the city.
"It's quite different than Amsterdam," she said. "I think Memphis is still searching for its identity."
The way she sees it, the city is still very much divided along racial lines. There are separate cultures for whites and blacks.
"As far as the music goes, however, it rocks. People play like nowhere else in the world, and there's a style here you can't find anywhere else, that you can't learn unless you come here."
Since she's been in Memphis, Popovic has picked up a side project, the Mo Better Love band, a nine-piece outfit she leads that was put together by Tony Coleman, B.B. King's longtime drummer.
The band is only playing sporadically. They played in New Orleans a few weeks ago and have a record out called "Can You Stand the Heat." It debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Heatseeker chart.
Popovic said the record is different from a lot of other blues records out right now. She called it a throwback to the days of blues legend Albert King, who played blues mixed with a little funk.
"When Albert King was playing back in the day, you couldn't stop dancing or shaking your head," she said. "Nowadays, where's the groove? What happened to the groove?"
Popovic thought the blues don't have to be so serious. It can have an accent.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.