Manizha will represent Russia at Eurovision 2021 with her song “Russian Woman”.

For the first time since 2012, Russia opted for a national selection to determine their act for Eurovision. From a field of three, 29-year-old singer Manizha won the ticket to Rotterdam. She’s attracted a lot of controversy amongst conservatives, but she’s no stranger to fighting against the haters. Here are 10 facts about the Russian star.

Russia at Eurovision 2021: Facts about Manizha

1. She was born in Tajikistan

Manizha was born in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, two months before the country declared independence from the Soviet Union. Three years later, she left Tajikistan with her parents after a shell hit their house during the Tajik Civil War. They settled in Moscow, where the singer still resides, and she began her studies in music. Her Tajik origins have been a source of controversy. Some have deemed her song “not Russian enough”. However, she has remained fierce in the face of opposition, receiving support from many other Russian stars. After all, Russia is a massive country with people from many nationalities and communities.

2. She comes from an inspirational family

Manizha’s grandfather was Toji Usmon, a writer and journalist with a monument dedicated to him in Khujand. Her great-grandmother was one of the first women in Tajikistan to remove her hijab and make a living. The authorities responded by taking her children away, although they were later returned to her. Manizha’s father, who worked as a doctor, was reluctant for her to pursue a career in music. He deemed it an inappropriate pathway for a Muslim woman. However, she followed the lead of her ancestors and decided to defy expectations. She changed her surname from Khamrayeva to Sangin to honour her grandmother, who inspired her to pursue music.

3. She gained fame and success very quickly

It didn’t take long for Manizha’s talents to get noticed. She started as a child singer and won the Grand Prix of the Rainbow Stars in Jūrmala, Latvia. She then became a laureate of the Ray of Hope festival and the Kaunas Talent competition in Lithuania. After recording songs in Russian and Tajik, she joined the musical group Ru.Kola in 2007. Their song “I Neglect” featured a video with comic Semyon Slepakov and accrued over 300,000 views. Later in 2007, she was a finalist at Five Stars in Sochi.

4. She has been a part of many musical groups

She left Ru.Kola after four years and joined Assai in 2011. Their biggest hit was “Flower”, which has around 200,000 views on YouTube. Not long afterwards, she left Assai with some other members to join Krip De Shin. They performed at various music festivals throughout Russia and released an EP. Creative differences saw Manizha leave the band. She then moved to London, studied gospel music, and embarked on a solo career.

5. She created the first Instagram album

Her debut album Manuscript was released independently in February 2017. Her ability to innovate musically and her intelligent use of Instagram shined through and brought success. She released one song per week from her album accompanied by a low-budget music video. She told Afisha: “Instagram for me is the most important platform. But I want to make full-length, bigger statements that do not fit into the framework of Instagram. I think it’s cool when you first learn to do things within a very rigid framework, and then go outside of them”. Manuscript was the first-ever Instagram album and helped bring Manizha to stardom. To this date, Manizha is well-known for her large profile on Instagram, where she has since gained over 400,000 followers.

 

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6. She’s a women’s rights activist

In 2018, Manizha launched the “Beauty Trauma” flash mob where she campaigned against beauty ideals imposed by the media. At her concert on the roof of the Chateau de Fantomas in Moscow, the singer took off her stage makeup and distributed wet wipes to the crowd so they could join her. The next year, Manizha launched a campaign against domestic violence. She launched a free mobile app called “Silsila” (Persian for “thread”) which comes with an alarm button for use during a crisis. It also allows users to locate nearby shelters. Her video “Mama” highlighted the problem and its impact on women and children.

7. She’s an LGBTQ+ ally

Russia is well-known for being one of the least safe places in Europe to be LGBTQ+. Manizha knows this and fights hard against it. She starred in a video for the Russian online queer magazine Otkritiye during Pride Month. This caused her to lose around 10,000 subscribers from Instagram. Undeterred, she continues to advocate for queer rights on the platform. In 2020, she sang her version of Cher’s “Believe” during the Otkritiye Digital Pride, and later performed at Queerfest in St. Petersburg.

8. She’s a UN Goodwill Ambassador for refugees

Manizha fled from a civil war in her country of birth, so it’s no surprise that her activism also includes fighting for the rights of refugees. She’s supported the UN High Commission for Refugees since 2019, raising awareness for the most vulnerable people in Russia. She was announced as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency in December 2020. This made her the First UN Goodwill Ambassador from Russia.

9. She considered pulling out of Eurovision

Despite her credentials and general awesomeness, her selection as Russia’s singer was not met with unanimous joy. She attracted hate for her Tajik roots and the female empowerment message of her song. The abuse reached the point where she considered pulling out, but the flow of support gave her the strength to keep going. The singer ultimately responded to the hate with her own mockumentary video hosted by herself in a blonde bob wig. The video jokes that she “bought” her victory as a way to escape Russia’s border closures. A doctor also tries to answer the question “What is Manizha?” by breaking into her house, stealing her skeleton, and conducting scientific tests. In collaboration with the VK social network, Manizha also took over electronic billboards in both St. Petersburg and Moscow. The message is very clear: “Listen to a Russian woman. Listen to a Tajik woman. Listen to a talented woman. Listen to the brave woman. Listen to every woman”.

10. She contributed to the Russian version of the Mulan soundtrack

Manizha recorded a song for the Russian dub of the 2020 live-action remake of the Disney classic Mulan. “Na put voina vstayu” was released on the Russian edition of the soundtrack album. The English version “Loyal Brave True” was performed by Christina Aguilera.

Do you think Manizha will bring success for Russia? Let us know below!

Read more Eurovision 2021 artist facts here.

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ESC 2021
1 month ago

This is awful.if a nother contry have this song, Europe should hate it

Alex
Alex
1 month ago

She is amazing and brave. I wasn’t a fan of the song before but now it’s growing on me for its message and different sound. Also, this girl is talented and an activist. I am so happy that the song is in (mostly) Russian, first time since 2003/2009.

I really want to see Russian qualifying this year, because it would be a FU to haters.

I prefer this type of music rather than the uninspiring, recycling music from Kontopoulos or Swedish writers.

Deven O'Kearney
Deven O'Kearney
1 month ago

I have a feeling that Russia might be the shock winner of Eurovision 2021. The song is so extremely different to anything else in the lineup, Manizha is very different and all of the anti-hype and media attention that she is getting is redolent of Conchita in 2014 and Dana International in 1998. Don’t underestimate Russia this year, because we just might be going to Moscow or St Petersburg next year.

Alonso
Alonso
1 month ago

Finally! Same toughts. Good luck to her

Rubii
Rubii
1 month ago

If you look back to Netta in 2018, it’s absolutely possible for Manizha to win too.

kohen
kohen
1 month ago

exactly!! I’m still rooting for France but Russia can get the trophy at the end, also I’m suspicious about Greece, If her stage and vocals are on point she might get unexpected great result too!

mandarinaitsme
mandarinaitsme
1 month ago

thank you from Russia!

tobias andersen
tobias andersen
1 month ago

I hope us fans will not boo at Russia this year, as the people we dislike in Russia are already booing at her! Now we should show her love and support. We need more like her to change the homophobia and racism in Russia (and honestly many other countries, personally living in Estonia for 10 years even here is a LOT of racism and homophobia, people are just only outspoken about it online, not so much on the streets). so THANKS wiwibloggs thanks. Before I was indifferent about her and the song, but knowing what she represents and how she… Read more »

Alex
Alex
1 month ago

Did you forget that none of the OGAE fan clubs will attend the shows? it will be random people from Rotterdam and maybe other cities too that are not organised fans.

Rubii
Rubii
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex

You need to apply for the attendance, so non-fans will probably not attend. A number of OGAE people from the Netherlands will probably still attend.

Sultan
Sultan
1 month ago

Hah, Manizha is a countrywoman of mine. The funniest thing is that I didn’t know about her, however, I heard a lot of her songs not knowing her name. My belover loves her songs although his origin comes from another country. And when I found out that she has the same origins as mine, it was really a huge finding for me (shame on me not knowing her). There is something uniqueness and unusualness in her creative work. Thanks to Wiwibloggs that summarized her biography. This is really important to me, because I know what she has come through, as… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Sultan
Badwoolfgirl
Badwoolfgirl
1 month ago

Good luck to Manizha, and if the delegation tries to sabotage her, we’re gonna have words!

Charli Cheer Up
Charli Cheer Up
1 month ago

She’s so cute! kind of resembles Australia’s Jessica Mauboy a bit ~<3

Mr Vanilla Bean
Mr Vanilla Bean
1 month ago

Nobody can deter her. Possibly the most inspirational artist of this year.

Eugenie
Eugenie
1 month ago

I’m not Manizha hater or something, but saying her career came quickly like it’s her achievement is wrong. Her dad paid a lot of money to producers to make her career. He’s rich and famous person.

Rubii
Rubii
1 month ago
Reply to  Eugenie

Imagine her dad paying a lot while this same dad also tried to prevent her from getting her career. Manizha has experienced a lot and we, the fans, are proud of her.

Fatima
Fatima
1 month ago

She’s winning the PR contest

Alonso
Alonso
1 month ago

A true feminist empowerment song this year. She is a brave fighter. All of my love and support for MANIZHA! Top 5 pls!

Colin
Colin
1 month ago

Truly inspiring woman. All the best, Manizha. 🙂 Russian Woman is one of the more risky entries of this year and I hope it pays off well!

Last edited 1 month ago by Colin
Jeff USA
Jeff USA
1 month ago

I absolutely love Manizha!!! She is such a good person doing so much not only for her but for countless others. She’s more than just a singer she’s an activist and role model paving the way for many people. I absolutely love the song Russian woman and the amazing stage presence she has. She may have her fair share of people who dislike her but I know it won’t bother her at Eurovision and beyond. I wish her all the best!!!

Safiya
Safiya
1 month ago

Seems like a very inspiring person! Out of all songs with the feminist theme this year, her entry seems the most relatable and genuine for me (I am not saying that other songs are not genuine, it’s just my personal preference).