Senhit Zadik Zadik, simply known as Senhit, was due to represent San Marino at the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam with her song “Freaky!“. It’s an uplifting disco-infused anthem that invites us to live life with a pinch of madness, without caring about the judgment of others.
Sammarinese broadcaster SMRTV chose Senhit through an internal selection process.
The singer then launched a digital battle to choose which song to sing. The choices were “Freaky!” and “Obsessed”. The former won over the latter with 51.6% of the vote.
We’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Senhit. Are you ready? Let’s do this!
San Marino at Eurovision 2020: Facts about Senhit
1. She’s an Italian citizen with an Eritrean heart
Senhit was born and raised in Bologna to Eritrean parents. They moved to Italy almost 45 years ago. The singer officially became Italian between the ages of six and seven. Citizenship came as a consequence of that granted to her parents.
In an interview with iO Donna she remembered: “The day my sister, brother and I became fully Italian there was a huge party, like a wedding. We set up our garage, at the time we lived outside Bologna, in the San Ruffillo district. We invited relatives and friends, practically the whole neighbourhood. It was a big event”.
“At home we have always spoken Italian, my mother speaks Eritrean only when she gets angry with us! On the table there is room for Bolognese cuisine but also for Eritrean titbits. It’s important to maintain traditions but we are Bolognese. Therefore at our table we serve tortellini, perhaps next to zighini, without ever mixing things up, of course”.
Senhit also performed in Eritrea, as revealed to wiwibloggs: “I did a big tour four years ago in Eritrea, it was for charity. For them, I’m the person who made it. You know, they think ‘She’s from Europe, she’s a singer, the dream came true'”.
2. Her father didn’t want her to be a singer
For many artists it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to make a living out of their passion. Working as a singer — as well as other artistic vocations — is often not viewed favourably by parents who dream of a stable job that guarantees a secure future for their children.
The same happened to Senhit. While she had her mother’s full support, she had to contend with her father. He did not really agree with her dream.
“I always wanted to sing even if that went against my father’s wishes” she revealed to Radio Bicocca. “He considered the show business ephemeral and superficial, while my mother totally gave artistic freedom to all her children. In the end the one of us who decided to work in this field was me”.
3. She did Eurovision before
After taking a two-year break, San Marino returned to Eurovision in 2011 with Senhit — or Senit as she was known as then. She was chosen internally to represent the microstate. The singer performed in the first semifinal with the ballad “Stand By”, finishing in sixteenth place with 34 points. If only the jury had decided, Senhit would have reached the final. Her performance was ranked eighth by the experts. Alas, the public put the entry last.
4. She loves her dog madly
Senhit’s dog Buddy is a regular on her socials. The singer’s love for her faithful life companion is so great that she dedicated the title of her digital EP Hey Buddy to him.
Buddy’s story is the same as many dogs. In 2010, Senhit adopted him from a kennel in Brindisi, in Southern Italy. They’ve been inseparable ever since. In 2015, the singer an ambassador for Save the Dogs, an association committed to protecting the dignity and well-being of animals.
She wrote on Instagram: “Buddy, faithful and loyal friend who remains my staple in this world that moves too fast. He gives me courage when everyone leaves. He’s not just a dog… He’s the best antidote to the occasional human weakness. He’s more than a dog. It’s family”.
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Sorpresa di Natale! ?? La famiglia di #AllTogetherNow si è riunita per farvi un regalo molto speciale. ?? La celebre canzone #LastChristmas cantata da noi per tutti voi! ? Potete vedere il video al link in bio! P.S. Sì, anche Buddy ha preso parte al video e si è preparato ad hoc per l’occasione! ??
5. She’s a fashionista
Besides music, Senhit loves fashion. She always wears fashionable clothes and accessories of many different colours in her videos and Instagram posts . Moreover, on her YouTube channel she gives fashion tips. For example, Senhit teaches us the five essential items to have in your wardrobe — hat, trench coat, shirt, jeans and sneakers.
“I like to see what I buy right away, I don’t shop online. I go around shops all over the world, and often also for markets, looking for beautiful vintage pieces. I’m a multi-brand store: space from high fashion, like Prada and Marni, to brands like Department 5 and Levi’s” she told AFmag.
6. She is an LGBT ally
Senhit has never hidden her support for the LGBT community. Her closet is full of rainbow clothes and her social posts are often accompanied by the rainbow icon and the hashtags #pride and #proud. Her Eurovision 2020 entry “Freaky!” is a clear hymn to universal love. In the official video Senhit shares a sapphic kiss with one of her dancers. In the promo pics she also wears a T-shirt with “Love is Love” written on it.
Back in 2018, she performed at the Gay Pride Parade in Bologna. She said in a interview by BolognaToday: “In this period of history it’s good to raise your voice for everyone’s rights and I’ll do it singing. It’s a beautiful way to convey messages. If they hadn’t invited me, I would have invited myself! After the 150,000 people who paraded in Milan, I really like the idea of taking part in my city’s parade in this way and I will do it with joy”.
7. She follows Sanremo religiously
Like many Italians, Senhit has a great passion for the Sanremo Music Festival. The singer has followed it religiously since 1990.
Her favourite Sanremese entries are “Gli uomini non cambiano” by Mia Martini, “La terra dei cachi” by Elio e le Storie Tese, “Luce (Tramonti a Nord-Est)” by Elisa, “Di sole e d’azzurro” by Giorgia, “Adesso tu” by Eros Ramazzotti, “Mentre tutto scorre” by Negramaro, “Fuori” by Irene Grandi and “Amici non ne ho” by Loredana Bertè.
Guess what? In 2018, Senhit — as shown in the video below — also included “Babilonia” by Diodato, runner-up in the Newcomers category a few years before, in her list. The two were supposed to participate together at Eurovision 2020.
8. She was among the 100 judges on All Together Now
In late 2019 and early 2020, Senhit appeared on the Italian version of All Together Now, a TV singing competition created by the BBC. She was part of “The 100”, a unique panel of one hundred music experts and performers from across the country who judged the performances of the contestants.
Before the show aired, Senhit said: “I’m excited to be part of the 100, it’ll be like living with a big family who, like me, love music. Of course it won’t be easy to judge the contestants… I remember the first audition I did and how excited I was, but also determined. These will be the characteristics that, as a judge, I will look for in the singers who will perform, since they brought me luck!”
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E con la puntata di ieri sera di #AllTogetherNow si è conclusa una delle più belle esperienze degli ultimi anni. ? Se dovessi pensare a come definirla direi: entusiasmante, travolgente ed emozionante. Ho riso, cantato, ballato, ascoltato e mi sono lasciata sorprendere. ?? È stato un onore esserci. Ho conosciuto persone stupende che sono diventate una vera e propria FAMILY. ? Per tutto questo (e non solo): grazie! Grazie a @cenciroby e @francicenci, a @qui_mediaset, all’inarrestabile @therealhunzigram e al Super @j.axofficial. ? E grazie a tutti i miei insostituibili colleghi del muro: che squadra pazzesca che siamo! ?? E grazie a tutti voi per averci seguito ed accompagnato in queste settimane. ?? Baci dalle spice girls di All Together Now! ??????
9. She worked with a well-known Eurovision act
Senhit’s took her early steps into the world of entertainment by taking up roles in musicals in Italy and abroad. Her first role was that of Marie Hannequin in Il Grande Campione. It focused on the figure of Marcel Cerdan, a French boxer who had an intense love affair with the famed chanteuse Édith Piaf.
Massimo Ranieri served as director and main actor on the show. He is a famous Italian singer and Sanremo winner who took part in Eurovision twice — in 1971 with “L’amore è un attimo” and in 1973 with “Chi sarà con te”.
“My mom told me that there was an audition for a musical and I was very enthusiastic about it from the beginning. This show was entrusted to a small and private production but captained by Massimo Ranieri, one of my reference points in the world of theatre”, Senhit revealed.
“It was my boon, it opened up a world for me, and I also had the courage to go to my father to tell him that I was stopping by the university to turn this passion into a job. It went well in the end, I had the good fortune to work with a lot of illustrious characters, starting with Ranieri, very strict but also very talented, who gave me the stage presence that is helping me to face the live concerts”.
10. She has a pretty substantial discography
In her fifteen-year career, Senhit has released many records. Her discography includes more than twenty singles, three albums — Senit from 2006, Un tesoro è necessariamente nascosto from 2007 and So High from 2009 — and a digital EP (Hey Buddy from 2017), both in Italian and English.
Her debut dates back to 2005 with the single “La mia città è cambiata”. It was written by Saverio Grandi and Gaetano Curreri, leader of the band Stadio which won the Sanremo Festival in 2016.
Eurovision 2021 update
As of 30 April, neither Senhit nor the Sammarinese broadcaster have commented on their plans for 2021. Upon the cancellation of the 2020 contest, Senhit wrote:
“I am very sorry. As you know, the Eurovision 2020 has been cancelled. A painful but inevitable choice for our health. But the music stays and, nowadays, it can give us the strength to go on. #Freaky is a song to celebrate life, freedom, love in all its forms. Today, more than ever, we need to feel close to each other, to dance and to smile. Nevertheless, do not stop doing that”.
Would Senhit have brought San Marino to its third Eurovision final? Are you digging the retro vibe of “Freaky!”? Let us know in the comments below.