Uku Suviste was due to represent Estonia at the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam with his song “What Love Is”.
Uku was selected by EER through its annual Eesti Laul competition. The 24 song selection was split into two semis and then a final with two rounds of voting. Uku made it all the way to the superfinal. where he scored almost 70% of all the votes.
And now we’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Uku Suviste. Let’s do this!
Estonia at Eurovision 2020: Facts about Uku Suviste
1. He father works in TV
Uku is the son of Raivo Suviste and Heli Suviste-Polikarpus. The pair split up when he was only three, but Uku doesn’t recall the separation as being hard. He would live mostly with his mother Heli and spend holidays with his father Raivo. His father is a well-known TV producer. And, in fact, his job meant that he missed Uku’s birth in June 1982. Instead, he had to attend a course in Moscow. To make matters worse, while doctors in Estonia were delivering a three-and-a-half kilo little boy, Raivo was in a Russian hospital with a toothache. He ultimately learned of Uku’s birth via telegram. A young Uku dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps, but Raivo knew he was destined for another field when he saw him perform the Irish Eurovision winner “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids” at a high school graduation party.
2. His sister is a tennis protégé
Uku’s sister Karola Suviste is ranked as one of Estonia’s finest young tennis talents. The 15-year-old attends Rafael Nadal’s academy in Mallorca. When she was younger, Karola would occasionally perform with her big brother. There is a 22 year age gap between the two.
3. He studied at Berklee
Uku began music lessons when he was only six. At the time he took a specialised music class at Tallinn School No. 21 while also singing in the Tallinn Boys Choir. His next step was the Tallinn Music School. He graduated in 1997 after specialising in piano. He finished high school in 2000. He left music to one side in 2001 and spent four years studying computer systems. It wasn’t long before his studies focused on music once more. And in 2006 he headed to Boston to attend the world-famous Berklee College of Music.
4. He did New Wave
New Wave is a long-running festival which celebrates new and emerging talent. Through the years, it’s paid host to countless future Eurovision stars including Dima Bilan, Sergey Lazarev and Polina Gagarina. Winners of the festival include Jamala, DoReDoS and two Eurovision 2020 singers — Natalia Gordienko and Damir Kedžo. Uku entered in 2010, representing Estonia. He finished third in a field of 17, behind Armenia and Ukraine respectively. Other future song contest stars in the 2010 line-up included Latvia’s PeR and Belarus’ Litesound.
5. His face sounds familiar
In 2014, Uku appeared on Su nägu kõlab tuttavalt — the Estonian version of the celebrity singing show Your Face Sounds Familiar. Uku impersonated a multitude of well-known artists including Robbie Williams and Josh Groban. By the end of the season, he had racked up enough points to place fifth in the overall rankings, just behind another Eesti Laul regular — Liis Lemsalu.
6. He was on The Voice Russia
Soon after his first Eesti Laul attempt, Uku turned his focus east. In a bid to build a name for himself in Russia, he entered the seventh season of the country’s version The Voice. His audition with Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” saw two coaches push their buttons — including Ukraine’s Eurovision 2008 star Ani Lorak. Uku joined her team and made it all the way to the semi-final. He may not have won, but the stint allowed him to network with some big names including Phillip Kirkorov and Dimitris Kontopoulos — the so-called the “dream team” behind countless Eurovision hits, including “Shady Lady”. Kontopoulos would go on to produce “What Love Is”.
7. He has a taste for musicals
While he’s best known for his career as a recording artist, Uku is also a regular in stage musicals. He’s starred in several well-known productions including Oliver!, Chicago and West Side Story. Uku’s most recent role was playing Danny in Grease. You can watch him and fellow adults play American teens in the trailer below.
8. He got to Eurovision on his third attempt
Eesti Laul can be a tough competition. It frequently boasts some of the biggest and best names from the local music scene. Uku entered the selection for the first time in 2017 with “Supernatural”. Alas, he was eliminated in the semi-final. He returned in 2019 with “Pretty Little Liar”. This time he did significantly better, finishing second behind Victor Crone. Of course, he won the contest on his third attempt in 2020.
9. He has released over a dozen singles
Uku has released at least one single almost every year since 2009, including his three Eesti Laul entries. Most are in Estonian, but there are some English and Russian-language tracks in the mix too. In 2013 he collaborated with Belarusian popstar and Eurovision 2005 singer Angelica Agurbash. He has also released an album with Estonia’s 2013 singer Birgit Õigemeel.
10. He was voted Estonia’s sexiest man
In 2010, readers of the Kroonika magazine voted for Uku to win the title of “Estonia’s Sexiest Man”. Not long after, as if to justify his win, Uku performed “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on TV wearing nothing but his jeans and some jewellery. Future Eurovision 2014 star Tanja picked up the award for “Estonia’s Sexiest Woman”.
Eurovision 2021 update
Uku has not been guaranteed the opportunity to represent Estonia in 2021. Instead, broadcaster EER has offered him an automatic spot in the Eesti Laul semi-final, which Uku has accepted.
What do you think of Uku? Are you excited to see him in Eesti Laul 2021? Let us know in the comments.