Formed by the late Daniel T. Matousek (who died from complications due to AIDS in 1994), the Zhena Folk Chorus was the beneficiary of Matousek's 15 years of experience and knowledge of Croatian and Bulgarian music. Starting with a small ensemble, the group eventually grew to incorporate 32 vocalists and a musical ensemble. The intent behind the group was to perform the material in as unvarnished a manner as possible to reflect the original roots of the songs, some of which date back to pre-Christian times.
Their first self-released album, And the Forest Began to Sing, was recorded to two-track digital tape in the Gascon Fencing Academy in Culver City, CA, with the addition of a live track recorded at the Onion in Sepulveda. Produced by Matousek, it was released only a few months before his death.