And on Saturday Ukraine’s Jamala reminded us why she’s worthy of all the attention when she sat down for a Skype interview with wiwibloggs.
The 32-year-old singer — real name Susana Jamaladinova — was warm, open and thoughtful as she fielded questions on everything from Stalin’s purges to accusations that her song is too political to her adorable dog Badu.
In an industry filled with faux air kisses and scripted responses, she’s keeping it real and winning fans for her voice and her personality.
In short, Jamala slays.
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Jamala, who previously entered Ukraine’s 2011 selection for Eurovision, says she wanted to make another go this year because she had a story to tell.
“I wrote this song last year, but the origins of it are in my childhood,” she says. “It’s inspired by my great grandmother. She told me about the Crimean Tatar deportation from Crimea to Central Asia on the 18th of May, 1944. It was a horrible time when she with five children on her arms was locked into cattle trains without food, water or fresh air and moved out of Crimea. During this deportation she lost one of her daughters.”
The lullaby part of her song — which is accompanied by Jamala’s loud calling — refers to the moment her great grandmother recognised the death of her daughter.
“I understand that it is quite a sad story, but in my opinion all musicians have to sing what really touches them.”
As international media worked itself into a frenzy over the supposedly political nature of her song, Jamala kept her cool.
She says she never worried about being disqualified, because her song is personal and historical. It certainly wasn’t “aimed at Russia” as the BBC suggested.
“There is no politics on my song. I think there are two important messages in this song. When we create the future we should remember our roots and where we came from. And if you respect your own family, your own history, you know 100% how to respect other cultures. There is no political statement on my song.”
Press play to hear Jamala’s dog sing
A video posted by wiwibloggs (@wiwibloggs) on