Alicja was due to represent Poland at the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam with her song “Empires”.
The song carries a significant message, as does the music video. Alicja has said that she wanted to highlight some of the crises the world faces. Men build great empires through their work and toil. But it’s these same people who can actually tear it down through their indifference to the environment, among other things.
National broadcaster TVP chose her through the Szansa na Sukces selection show. She topped both the public and jury vote in the final.
But what about the woman behind the song? We have compiled 10 facts you need to know about Alicja. Let’s do this!
Poland at Eurovision 2020: Facts about Alicja
1. She’s from Ciechanów
Alicja Szemplińska — more commonly known as Alicja — is from Ciechanów. With a population of just 44,209 inhabitants, the small north-central city is best known for its historic monuments. Besides Alicja, other famous Ciechanów citizens include the supermodel Kasia Struss and the popstar Doda.
2. She’s still in school
Don’t let her mature voice or showbiz career fool you. Alicja is only 17 and is still in school. In one interview, she suggested that a move to Warsaw could be on the cards after she’s done. For now, though, she has to make tough decisions like whether she should stick with science or focus more on music. “I devoted myself to biology and chemistry throughout middle and high school. It was my way. But recently everything has changed. When I devoted myself more to music, I saw that it’s hard to combine hours of sitting at the piano and hours of learning biology and chemistry. I have to listen to my intuition and what plays in my soul: music. Of course, learning is also important and must be continued. But I don’t know if in the direction I was thinking initially”.
3. She won her first TV talent show at 14
Alicja made her TV talent show debut in 2016. Aged just 14, she entered Hit, Hit, Hurra! a 12-episode series that sought to unearth Poland’s next young talent. Alicja sailed through the process, impressing a three-person judging panel which included Eurovision 1994 legend Edyta Gorniak. She reached the final and won, beating five other aspiring stars including the future Junior Eurovision 2017 singer Alicja Rega. Her prize consisted of a monetary sum and singing lessons with Seth Riggs, a Los Angeles based vocal trainer who has worked with the likes of Michael Jackson.
4. She also won The Voice
Szemplińska returned to national TV screens once more in 2019 when she entered the tenth edition of The Voice of Poland. And she was back to her winning ways immediately. At her blind audition, she performed Alessia Carra’s “Scars To Your Beautiful” and inspired all four coaches to turn, including Eurovision 2016 singer Michał Szpak and Meldoifestivalen star Margaret. However, she opted to join Tomson & Baron, members of the rock band Afromental. The move paid off, and she won the series outright.
5. Her debut single was called “Prawie my”
Upon winning The Voice, Alicja was snapped up by Universal Music and released her winner’s single “Prawie my” (Almost Us). She performed the track for the first time during The Voice final, and it went on to enjoy moderate radio success — peaking at 48 on the airplay charts. It’s proven even more popular online. Since November 2019 the music video has racked up almost 4.5 million views on YouTube — one million of those views came within the first ten days of release. “Empires” is Alicja’s second single.
6. Her third TV talent show victory came on Szansa Na Sukces
After two years of non-qualification, Poland overhauled its selection method for 2020. In doing so, it decided to use the already popular Szansa Na Sukces format to find its artist and song. The show’s final saw Alicja compete against Kasia Dereń and Eurovision 2019 alum Albert Cerny. The result was down to a combination of public and jury votes. Alicja gained maximum points from both.
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Nie ma s?ów które mog?y by opisa? to co teraz czuj?. Dzi?kuj?, za ka?dy oddany g?os i zaufanie. Czuje si? zaszczycona, ?e b?d? mog?a reprezentowa? nasz kraj na @eurovision , przede mn? du?o pracy, zrobi? wszystko co w mojej mocy ?eby was nie zawie??! Ogromne gratulacje dla niesamowitych @kasia_deren , @who.is.albert.cerny – jeste?cie wspaniali!!! Mocno trzymam za was kciuki i wiem, ?e nie raz spotkamy si? na muzycznej drodze! ?? Dzi?kuj? @patrykkumor @minuunim @laurellmusic za ca?e serce w?o?one w produkcje tej piosenki, to dla mnie zaszczyt, bez was by si? nie uda?o. @marcin.wortmann bez Ciebie i naszej pracy równie? by si? nie uda?o mistrzu! Ca?ej produkcji, rodzinie i przyjacio?om. Kocham was! Stay tuned, open up Love, xx
7. She grew up with R&B, soul and gospel music
Many have compared Alicja’s deep voice to that of the great soul and R&B divas, including the late Whitney Houston. And that’s hardly surprising given that’s the type of music she was brought up on. “I think I got infected by my mother who is a big fan of Whitney Houston. This music has always been in my home, so that’s why it got into my blood. Also, I had a slightly lower voice than most girls my age. Now it has even deepened over the years. It also turned me in this direction”.
8. She’s not going to rush release her debut album
Talent show winners are often pushed into the recording studio almost immediately, in order to record and rush release an album. But Alicja is avoiding the temptation. She admits that while she feels strong enough to make an LP, she doesn’t want to hurry. Nonetheless, she’s adamant that it remains one of her biggest dreams to create a record of her own. “That’s why I have a lot of hard and humble work now”, she says.
9. Her Eurovision 2020 song is written by a hitmaking team
“Empires” is the work of Patryk Kumór, Dominic Buczkowski-Wojtaszek, Frazer Mac and Laurell Barker. Patryk Kumór was involved with both of Poland’s Junior Eurovision winning entries. Laurell Barker has penned multiple Eurovision entries including Luca Hanni’s “She Got Me”, S!sters’ “Sister” and Michael Rice’s “Bigger Than Us”, all in 2019. Frazer Mac also worked on “She Got Me” while Dominic Buczkowski-Wojtaszek contributed to Viki Gabor’s “Superhero”.
10. But Alicja wants to write her own material someday
Thus far, both of Alicja’s singles have been written for her by others. But like many of her peers, the singer is keen to eventually write her own material. Between lyrics and melody, Alicja says that she’d feel more comfortable with the former. “I’m not a great composer at the moment. Although even with the help of chords alone, you can create cool things with the piano”. She fills her notebook with verses and rhymes in her spare time.
Eurovision 2021 update
As of 6 April, Poland’s TVP has yet to reveal its plans for Eurovision 2021. However, Alicja has publicly said that she would love a second crack of the whip at participating. Replying to a fan on Instagram she said “I would be thrilled if I could participate in [Eurovision 2021] and represent Poland!”
Do you think Alicja should sing for Poland next year? Let us know in the comments.