Barbara Pravi will represent France at Eurovision 2021 with her song “Voilà”.
Barbara earned the right to fly the French flag in Rotterdam after winning Eurovision France: C’est vous qui decidez! — France’s newly revamped national final. A favourite with fans and bookmakers alike, she won the hearts of both the jury and the French public. And now, she’s heading to The Netherlands, with hopes of bringing France its first song contest victory since 1977.
But who is the woman behind the song? We’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Barbara Pravi. Let’s do this!
France at Eurovision 2021: Facts about Barbara Pravi
1. She’s got Serbian and Iranian roots
Born and raised in Paris, Barbara Piévic is the daughter of a half-Iranian mother and a half-Serbian father. Barbara’s multicultural upbringing has given her a strong connection to her roots. She takes her stage name Pravi from the Serbian word prava, in honour of her grandfather.
“I feel connected to a lot of things”, Barbara tells our William. “I feel Serbian because I am in love with my grandfather. I’m in love with the history of my family. I feel Iranian because I love poetry, like Iranian poetry. But I also feel English, because I speak English. I love Italia, I love Spain”, she adds. “I feel everything.”
2. She’s a Junior Eurovision songwriting champion
The 27-year-old singer already has a taste of Eurovision glory. Barbara and her composing partner Igit co-wrote Valentina’s “J’imagine”, which brought France its first-ever Junior Eurovision victory in 2020. The pair also co-wrote Carla’s “Bim Bam Toi”, which placed fifth at Junior Eurovision 2019.
3. She’s written songs for music superstars
Barbara’s songwriting experience goes beyond Eurovision. She’s written for some high profile French stars including Louane, Chimène and Yannick Noah. She’s also written with American child star turned hip-hop artist Jaden Smith. One of the most notable artists Barbara has collaborated with is Florent Pagny. Through his extensive career, Florent has sold over 10 million records, becoming one of the best selling artists in France. From 2017 to 2018, Barbara Pravi accompanied Florent Pagny as a supporting act on the 55 tour.
4. She’s a proud women’s rights activist
At the core of her personality, Barbara holds strong feminist values. She speaks openly about her experiences with misogyny in the music industry. When working on her first EP, producers tried to mould her into an image she disliked. “They wanted me to be the new little Lolita”, Barbara told Ma Musicale. “I refused because I wanted to be true to who I am. I think if you are a man you are forced to do a lot less.” Barbara continues to campaign for gender equality in the music industry. On March 8 every year, Barbara releases new music to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year, she launched her EP Les prières — a series of prayers celebrating freedom and independence.
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5. She’s delivered a TED talk
Barbara delivered a TED talk called A tous ceux qui, comme moi… — “To those who, like me…”. Speaking to students at Emlyon Business School, Barbara talks about her career path to becoming a musician, her struggles with self-confidence throughout the years and carving out her space in a male-dominated industry.
“I have the right to make mistakes”, Barbara says. “I also have the right to be successful — I can be a wife, a patron, a friend, a lover. If one day I have a daughter, when she is 15 I would tell her that anything is possible and there is no ambition too great, no dream too small. It will take a lot of work, willpower and resilience, that she will make mistakes and will have to recover, but that all these things to reach the end of her dreams she has inside her. Because we all have them in us and my child will be able to look at herself in the mirror and will be able to say in the same way as I am saying tonight: I am a songwriter, musician, singer.”
The lyrics of her Eurovision entry “Voilà” echo this sentiment and are reflective of Barbara’s emotional journey towards finding inner confidence.
6. She’s also an actress
Barbara is no stranger to the stage. In 2016, Barbara Pravi made her theatre debut in the French musical Un été 44 — “Summer ’44”. Barbara played Solange Duhamel, one of six young people living in France during the German occupation. Then in 2017, Barbara scored her first TV gig, appearing in the TV movie La Sainte Famille. The film tells the tale of a traditional Catholic family living in Northern France, following the story of a priest who is torn between his faith and romance. Barbara plays the character of Marion, acting alongside French cinema stars Stanley Weber, Dominique Labourier and Gérard Desarthe.
7. She loves birds
In Barbara’s C’est vous qui decidez! winning performance of “Voilà”, fans were mesmerised by her intimate staging. One of the most eye-catching moments was the l’ombre chinoise — Chinese shadows — that transformed into a flock of birds. Moments after her victory, Barbara told our Diego that she loves birds. “I’m crazy about birds”, Barbara says. “I had a lot of birds in my head when I wrote the song. I feel very close to birds, in my imagination, it’s a very present figure so that was very natural for me to have my silhouette and my head become birds.”
8. She’s inspired by French chanson
Since she burst on to the Eurovision scene, fans have compared Barbara to chanson legends like Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel. She takes heavy inspiration from the chanson genre and cites some of her other influences as Françoise Hardy, Georges Brassens and the French poet Aragon. “This is like 90% of the music I listen to. These are my references, I love them both. The particularity of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel is the words”, Barbara says. “It’s always so sincere, so just, so real. I am very influenced by the words, this is my first love.”
9. She released her debut EP in 2018
In 2018, Barbara launched her eponymous debut EP Barbara Pravi. The record has a poppier sound when compared to Barbara’s more recent works, and includes songs such as “Pas grandir” and “Deda”. She also collaborated with Britain’s Got Talent star Calum Scott on a French duet version of his track “You Are The Reason”.
10. She’s an artist
Adding another item to her long list of talents, Barbara is also an artist. She takes great pride in having control over the music and art she puts out into the world, and never loses her creative vision. In fact, she even designs her own album artwork — seen on Les prières. Barbara’s portrait art is quirky like that of Matisse, colourful like that of Kahlo, and abstract like that of Picasso.
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What do you think of Barbara’s career? Are you excited to see “Voilà” at Eurovision? Let us know in the comments below.