Festivali i Kenges 51 was a contest staged in Tirana on Saturday evening to determine the 2013 Albanian representative for the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo.
Seventeen artists battled it out, and the standard of entries was very high. There were a few familiar faces this year. Anjeza Shahini (2004), Kejsi Tola (2009) and two other artists that had participated in the festival before, but didn’t quite make it through. The show was jam-packed with surprises. Some of these included local stars plugging their new sounds. Ell and Nikki, the 2011 victors from Azerbaijan, plugged their latest single and reprised their hit song, ‘Running Scared’.
However, the highlight of the show was Rona Nishliu. She appeared on stage in an evening gown, chatted with ease, then held the microphone tight before belting out an English Language rendition of “Suus” in the highest register. No matter how many times you hear “Suus” live, Rona keeps you guessing. The live audience were gripped to their seats. Albanians have heard the song over and over, and it has fared very well in their charts for many months. She has achieved a considerable amount of success as well as retaining critical acclaim, and respect from her peers.
I caught up with her earlier in the week and she talked about her latest project. It has a humanitarian angle, and music is simply the vehicle to honing in the cause.
A recording session video and campaign launch that’s part of the awareness campaign, against violence among young/teen couples. It is supported by European Commission in Kosovo. The title is “Se vetem zemra felt sakte” which means “Because it’s only our hearts that speak right! ” It’s self written, composed and arranged.
I love Rona Nishliu. Most people do too. If in doubt, consult the wiwijury standings for 2012. She came in 2nd position. She maintained this position in her semi final and came in 5th overall, giving Albania its highest placing and score to date. When I interviewed her in Azerbaijan, she struck me as an artist with strong moral convictions. Her country was grieving the deaths of civilians in a tragic accident. It was no time for celebration. Rona spearheaded the mourning campaign and dedicated “Suus” to their memory. Now, she has adopted ‘non-violence’ as her cause, and embraces it with the utmost sincerity.
She is a tough act to follow. The winners of last night’s show were, in my opinion, not deserving of a top 10 placing, let alone first position. Adrian Lulgjuraj and Bledar Sejko sung “Identitet”. It was very forgettable, and totally lacking in stage presence. It would struggle to qualify for the finals even in ESC editions packed with mediocrity. Most certainly, it is no threat to Rona’s shine.
Deban Aderemi is a London correspondent for WiwiBloggs.Com.