Silvi Vrait, Estonia’s first participant in the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest, has passed away following a two-month battle with a brain tumour.
Vrait, who finished next-to-last at Eurovision in 1994, earned just two points with her song “Nagu merelaine” (Like a Wave). But that’s a mere blip in the public conscioussness. For Estonians she’ll be rememebred as a freedom fighter whose songs—particularly “Väikene rahvas, väikene maa” (Small Nation, Tiny Country) and “Ei ole üksi ükski maa” (No Land Is Alone)—gave rhythm to Estonia’s fight for freedom. Bold and defiant, she emerged, from 1987, as a key figure of the so-called “Singing Revolution”—a series of mass demonstrations that ultimately saw more than 300,000 Estonians sing patriotic hymns that had been outlawed by the Soviet Politburo. Selecting her to perform at Eurovision was a show of gratitude for all she had done for the nation. How she fared was irrelevant.
In August 2011 she suggested that death had started to creep into her mind. “I’ve thought about death a lot lately…I guess that is one of my biggest fears,” she said in an extensive interview with Woman of Estonia magazine. “Those who believe that the soul is eternal, they are less fearful. I’ll try to believe it. But I still have the fear of death.”
Perhaps she knew something before her doctors did. In April 2013, Silvi entered a hospital to undergo treatment for a brain tumour. Her death on June 28 came peacefully, in body and mind.
“I have only now reached the point that I can look at myself in the mirror and without any embarrassment say, ‘Silvi, I love you,'” she said at the end of 2011. “For me, it has not been easy to accept myself – something previously prevented me. Now all is free. And my life is changing because of this.”
She is survived by her son Silver Vrait.