Benny Cristo will represent the Czech Republic at Eurovision 2021 with his song “Omaga”.
Benny was originally due to sing “Kemama” at Eurovision 2020. However, the contest was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, just like several other countries, the Czech Republic rested its national final for one year and internally selected Benny instead. Three songs were considered behind closed doors, with a panel of experts opting for “Omaga”.
And now, without any further chit-chat, here are 10 facts we’ve compiled about Benny Cristo. Let’s do this!
Czech Republic at Eurovision 2021: Facts about Benny Cristo
1. He got his big break on Idol
The Czech-Angolan star’s big break came with the very first season of SuperStar, the Czech and Slovak iteration of Idol, back in 2009. The series saw him share the stage with the future Slovak Eurovision 2012 singer Max Jason Mai. Benny finished seventh, kickstarting a fruitful music career in his native country.
2. He’s a martial arts prodigy
As part of the Jungle BJJ team, Benny managed to win a bronze from the Asian Jiu Jitsu Brazilian Championship in September 2016. Then, in October of the same year, he snatched a gold medal at the Madrid International Championship. All his medals were in the 88 kg white belt category. Going for the top is in his blood!
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3. He’s skilled at other sports too
Before he started singing, Benny was also an accomplished tennis player and snowboarder, competing professionally in the latter and placing first in the Czech Cup series 4×4 in 2006. It wasn’t until his SuperStar appearance that he realised that music was his true passion.
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4. He raps in English and Czech
Despite the nature of his preferred genre of rap and love for afrobeat tunes, the “Omaga” singer can showcase his talent in both English and his native Czech. He combines fire-hot urban beats with the Slavic language and ethnic arrangements as flawlessly as he does in English. In an interview with wiwibloggs, he tells us that he likes to explore different genres and styles, which fans will find out when listening to his back catalogue. However, he urges them to skip over his pre-2016 work, saying he was still finding himself at that point in time.
5. He’s a vegan
As a vegan and animal rights activist, Benny has been involved in multiple campaigns across the Czech Republic. He has worked with Obránci zvířat (OBRAZ) on a campaign that focused on the issue of caged hens. Benny’s involvement runs so deep, he even has his very own vegan panini inspired by him in the Czech and Slovak OMV gas station chains.
6. He has a large following
With close to 800,000 followers on Instagram and over 400,000 on Facebook, he is constantly referred to as one of the celebrities with the largest following in Czechia and Slovakia. No wonder he managed to score the maximum 12 points from the public in the 2020 edition of Eurovision CZ!
7. He releases music in creative ways
When he debuted his 2017 album Poslední, he did not release it as a regular CD. Instead, fans downloaded the album via a QR code on a T-Shirt specially designed by Benny himself. And for a concert in the Prague Yellow Spa, recordings of several songs were released in video format for virtual reality glasses. Looking to the future!
Muj prvni obraz "Racek v mo?i ". pic.twitter.com/YSO9ZC0jOv
— Ben Cristovao (@BenCristovao) July 9, 2017
8. A frequent collaborator
Benny has collaborated with several artists over his ten years in the music industry. These range from fellow SuperStar alums like Monika Bagárová, to music greats like Jiří Korn, and many others in between. There’s also Mária Čírová and The Glowsticks — the cowriters for “Kemama”. Filip Vlček produced “Omaga” and will also join Benny on stage in Rotterdam.
9. He won clip of the year
In 2013, “Bomby” netted Benny a Český slavík award in the category music video of the year. “Bomby” was part of the project of the civic initiative Nikagda nězabuděm. The campaign’s goal was to, which appealed to encourage higher voter turnout in the Czech elections of 2013. He worked together with other musicians, such as David Koller, Dan Bárta and Michael Kocáb.
10. He’s proud of his roots
Benny is Afro-European. His mother is Czech while his father is originally from Angola. African influences can often be found in his music, including “Kemama”. But while he’s proud of his roots, he doesn’t want to be labelled. “I was one of the very few people of colour that was growing up here”, he tells wiwibloggs. “In my school, I was the only child that was like that. I was always labelled my whole life”. He fights such prejudices by always striving to be the best, to prove that he can do things just as well as anyone else.
Can Benny maintain the Czechs’ strong string of results? Should he come back next year? Sound off in the comments below.