With her song “Russian Woman”, Manizha has become the first Russian Eurovision contestant in over a decade to sing at least part of their song in Russian. Talking to YouTube show Alena, blin!, the Tajik-Russian songstress explained her decision to sing in both English and Russian was influenced by Eurovision 2017 winner Salvador Sobral.
Ever since winning the Russian national final for Eurovision 2021 on International Women’s Day, Manizha has been the centre of international attention. She has featured in large European newspapers that normally do not pay so much attention to the contest outside of May, including The Guardian, Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung and El País.
However, she’s also found time to speak with local Russian media and recently sat down for a lengthy interview with Alena Zhigalova.
Manizha was inspired by Salvador Sobral to sing in Russian at Eurovision
Speaking to Super.ru YouTube series Alena, blin!, Manizha revealed that she has dreamt of representing Russia at Eurovision since she was a child. Her late grandmother, who she has cited as her biggest inspiration, once told her that she should sing at the contest.
Manizha told Alena that she used to watch Eurovision quite a lot as a child. She considers t.A.T.u (Russia 2003) and Dana International (Israel 1998) to be her childhood favourites. One of her standouts from recent years though is Eurovision 2017 winner Salvador Sobral:
“From the last few years, I absolutely loved the boy from Portugal, who sang in his own language. Who sang a very touching song without special effects or a guitar. I thought back then: “Wow, why don’t we believe in our own language and simple things?”. Why do we love to hide behind masks and special effects on stage? He did something to me that I wanted to get closer to my native language.”
When asked further if Salvador was also a large influence on her decision to sing in her own language, Manizha also gave a shout out to France’s 2019 contestant Bilal Hassani:
“The last time the contest was held, there was a contestant from France, who mixed languages. He sang in his own language and in English. I already did that for a few years and to me it was very strange, they probably would not take me. But now I am confident in what I am doing, because I ceased to see borders. There are no borders to language.”
Manizha talks about her stage performance for Rotterdam
Earlier in the interview, Manizha tells Alena that the most recurring question she has gotten in the interviews with international media is “What exactly constitutes a Russian Woman?”. The Tajik-Russian songstress says that her staging at the contest will hopefully reveal that.
Currently, Manizha and her mother are working on her stage costume. The costume will entail a large number of different fabrics from different regions of Russia. The Eurovision 2021 star doesn’t know yet how many different pieces she will use in the final dress as she is still receiving bits and pieces from everywhere, including as far away as Yakutia.
Although she repeats that all of her staging plans are still a secret, she says:
“The secret will be an important element in the end. It will answer all the questions that many people have now. Why could she call herself a Russian woman?”
What do you make of Manizha citing Salvador Sobral as an inspiration? Do you think Russia should sing more often in their own language? Let us know in the comments below!