Some of our favourite Eurovision stars competed in the contest after establishing careers in other fields. Following the contest, many of them returned to those jobs, knowing that it’s difficult to survive off music alone, particularly in smaller markets like Iceland or Malta. In honor of their hard work and dedication, let’s take a look at 10 Eurovision stars who have made a career for themselves outside of music.
1. Sebalter, Switzerland 2014
Day job: Lawyer
This Swiss cutie captured everyone’s looks in Copenhagen with his scruff, his eyes, and his humility, but he’ll make these girls’ and guys’ mothers even happier than their children when they find out his other job. Since 2012, Sebalter has worked in business law, making sure that businesses operated legally. Prior to this he played fiddle for Swiss folk-rock group Vad Vuc. They received numerous awards, topped the charts, and played in front of thousands of people, but Sebalter left the band in 2012 to focus on his law career. But with his Eurovision success he has put his day job on hold to kick off his solo music career.
2. Suzy, Portugal 2014
Day job: Flight attendant
Of course, Sebalter couldn’t have made it to the United States without the help of a pilot and his flight crew (well, there’s always ships, but let’s just stick to planes for now). Prior to Eurovision our Portuguese menina de pimba, Suzy, was helping people travel safely every single day. Suzy, who used to live in Dubai, worked on the 4-star Emirates Airlines. Just like with Sebalter, however, her music career has now taken over and she’s traded the friendly skies for the recording studio.
3. Kati Wolf, Hungary 2011
Day job: Airline purser
If Suzy and Kati were on the same plane, Suzy would be taking orders from Kati. Hard to imagine, right? As if the sassy Portuguese diva would take orders from anyone! Anyway, in her pre-Eurovision career, Kati worked as an airline purser and cabin leader. This meant that she was in charge of all the flight attendants, all on-board purchases, all safety procedures, and all flight reports. She wasn’t the head honcho of the whole plane, but we know one Swedish contestant who was…
4. Magnus Bäcklund, Sweden 2003
Day job: Commercial pilot
Magnus has vanished into obscurity since he and Jessica Andersson (a.k.a. Fame) asked us to give them our love in Riga, where they landed in fifth place. Their outfits, a throwback to the 70’s, are a surefire way of giving a shoutout to John Travolta, but Magnus takes this tribute a step further. Just as John flies for Qantas Airlines, Magnus works part-time as a commercial pilot on NextJet.
5. Hannes Vorno, Estonia 2008
Day job: Member of parliament
Lots of fans were shocked to learn that one of Pollapönk’s backing singers, Óttarr Proppé, was a member of the Icelandic Parliament, and were thrilled to see a politician perform in Eurovision for the first time. But like we say to our friends when we they react to the weirdest and most scandalous pop culture stories, “we have already seen it!”. Yes, a politician has graced the Eurovision stage. He just happened to double as a comedian singing about vegetables and chocolate cake in Estonia’s most forgotten entry to date. Hannes (in the orange suit) served in Riigikogu, the Estonian parliament, until 2003, when he and two friends founded Kreisiraadio. He represented the “Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit” Party, a center-right party mostly known for Mart Laar, the Prime Minister that helped stimulate Estonia’s economy after its separation from the Soviet Union.
6. Vilija Mataciunaite, Lithuania 2014
Day job: Real estate agent
In her pre-space-tutu days, Vilija was a reality star and singer. She first rose to prominence in 2005 on the show “Kelias i zvaigzdes” (have fun pronouncing that!), another singing competition. But even before that, Vilija was working alongside her father, another real estate agent, selling houses. As she said in her press conference, music is now her life and she can’t see herself returning to her old profession.
7. Stefan Raab, Germany 2000
Day job: Television host and producer
Although television isn’t too far from music, Stefan has shown himself to be a man of many talents. He has hosted numerous comedy shows, celebrity sports events, late night talk shows, and of course, the Eurovision Song Contest 2011. But he has also been a creative force behind the scenes. One of his notable television projects is “wok racing”, where celebrities make timed runs on bobsleigh tracks while sliding down on modified woks. This was created in 2003, and has been done every year since (Lucy Diakovska, the Bulgarian-German from No Angels, took a bronze in 2011, and a silver last year). Another one of Stefan’s projects is the Bundesvision Song Contest, a contest similar to ESC in which German provinces each participate with one song, which is at least half in German.
8. Gianluca, Malta 2013
Day job: Physician
We all remember last year’s smiling doctor, right? At the young age of 24, Gianluca is already practicing medicine, while keeping music as a hobby. He might not have been practicing long, but that didn’t stop the girls of Moje 3 from asking him for tips on how to keep their vocal chords in tip-top shape!
9. Heidar Örn and Haraldur Freyr, Iceland 2014
Day job: Pre-school teachers
As the lead singers of the Icelandic Wiggles, it would only make sense that children are a part of Heidar and Haraldur’s offstage life as well. Pollapönk started when the pair was studying for their Master’s Degrees in Education. They recorded a children’s album in Icelandic and turned it in with a paper as their final project. Now, they create new music for their students and their adult fans as well. The kids really dig it!
10. Chiara, Malta 1998, 2005, 2009
Day job: Secretary
Just as Gianluca became a doctor, Chiara became a secretary. Why did our favorite Maltese artists take on a second job? According to Chiara, there are no full-time jobs in the Maltese music industry. All singers there have another job so that they can pay the bills.
Chiara has a point. The music industry is tough if you don’t hit it big, especially since there are almost zero opportunities. There always needs to be a backup plan, in case your dreams can’t come to life. It isn’t a bad idea to go chasing your dreams, but be realistic. Eurovision is a great way to launch your career, but not everyone will become a Celine Dion….or even a Loreen.
Know of any others? Like this list? Comment below! And don’t forget: You can check out all of our other lists by clicking here.