Former Eurovision’s Next Top Model winner Elena Ionescu has parted ways with Mandinga, the band she performed with for the last ten years, in order to pursue a solo career. She has been replaced by Spanish singer Barbara Isasi.

The announcement was made today on social media by both parties, who claim  that the separation has been amicable. Elena Ionescu and Mandinga remain in good relations and prefer to call it the birth of two projects, rather than a break-up.

Mandinga, a Romanian-Cuban Latino jazz ban, rose to international acclaim in 2012, when it represented Romania at the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku. Their song “Zaleilah” finished 12th on the scoreboard. Maybe their most infamously memorable moment came in the semi-final, when Elena’s headset malfunctioned and the singer, visibly distraught at first, managed to perform without audio and complete the song. The emotions then gave way to relief when Romania was the first country announced as advancing to the Grand Final.

Nonetheless, our readers still chose Elena the most beautiful female singer at Eurovision in 2012, with over 35% of the votes. Slay, Queen Elena!

Together with Elena, Mandinga went on to perform on several international stages, including the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival, and to have a string of radio hits. Their last big success was “Adrenalina”, in the summer of 2015.

Now, the time has come for Elena Ionescu to seek some solo success. This morning, she announced her fans via Facebook that, after “10 beautiful years”, she will start a new musical adventure on a separate road, and that she would release new music before long.

Mandinga with Barbara IsasiAs for Mandinga, they announced that Barbara Isasi is their new vocalist. Barbara is a 27-year old Spanish singer and a former contestant of The Voice in her native country. Barbara told the Romanian press that she was excited to work with “a wonderful team” and to have their first show together.

Mandinga also announced that their Latin jazz style will change as well. From now on, they will have a more R&B sound, with Latin infusion.

This is not the first time the vocalist of Mandinga has parted ways with the team. Elena Gheorghe, another former Eurovision Next Top Model winner, also started her musical career as the singer of the Latin jazz band. Given her popularity now, we can’t but hope that Elena Ionescu will enjoy similar success!

Interview with Mandinga for wiwibloggs


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7 years ago

Good luck, Elena!

7 years ago

Mandinga stills exists, but their front singer changes a lot. First there was Elena Gheoghe, who left in 2006 and was replaced by Elena Ionescu, who left just now and is replaced by Spanish singer Barabara Isasi. How ridiculous is that?!?!? 😮