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!

Read all our Russia Eurovision news here.

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Aeria
Aeria
28 days ago

From several of her performances I know she’s an amazing live performer and will certainly get votes in Rotterdam next month. I hope she’ll do well <3

Ellen
Ellen
28 days ago

Manizha is my favourite Russian act since Polina. I can’t wait to see her on stage in Rotterdam.

Tobias Andersen
Tobias Andersen
28 days ago
Reply to  Ellen

+1 but I loved Sergei too, he seems like a very cute person

Alonso
Alonso
28 days ago

I get one thing to say, Manizha openly support LGBTQ+ community in Russia, not to mention her efforts in feminist movement and refugee issue. That courage and power in her body are sick!!! I love and support her from the bottom of my heart!

raylee
raylee
28 days ago
Reply to  Alonso

also she made an app for avoid violence against women.. support her to the end

ESC 21
28 days ago
Reply to  Alonso

Thats political, its not belong in ESC. This is a song contest. And its not a god song

Ben
Ben
28 days ago

By the way if you watch it on YouTube with the automatic subtitles translated to English you can follow it pretty well. It just seems to have a problem with translating double negatives.

Last edited 28 days ago by Ben
Blackcat
Blackcat
28 days ago

Sorry Manizha, not your fault but this year I won’t give my vote to Russia.

Sot
Sot
28 days ago

It’s so nice to be able to hear the Russian language again in Eurovision after 9 years! (last ones were the grannies from Buranovo – Buranovskiye Babushki)

Ashton Schier
Ashton Schier
28 days ago
Reply to  Sot

no, that was udmurt. last time we heard russian was in 2009 with Mamo

Sot
Sot
28 days ago
Reply to  Ashton Schier

Oh, you’re right! I forgot that they were from Udmurtia

Last edited 28 days ago by Sot
Aeria
Aeria
28 days ago
Reply to  Ashton Schier

The most ironic thing is that Mamo is partially Ukrainian too

L’oiseau
L’oiseau
28 days ago

Right on, sister!!! (It’s ironic, though, that Portugal choose a act entirely in English for the very first time…:-) )

Alo
Alo
28 days ago

If she will win(although I don’t think so), this will be a perfect story for the competition.
Please Russia just stop sending kirkorov trash from now on, you’re doing great.

Ben
Ben
28 days ago

As sad as I was to hear that Little Big wouldn’t come back for ESC2021, Manizha is a great choice and is one of my favorites this year. She’s really cool and can put on a great show. Good luck/udachi/barori kor!

Sultan
Sultan
28 days ago

Moreover, Eurostory Best Lyrics Award nominated Manizha’s song as the best lyrics song. I didn’t expect that she will be internationally recognized. I am proud that the woman from my country doesn’t hide her origins, and she has soaked up two completely different cultures. She proves that there is no barrier between people. In comparison to previous Russian entries, there is a huge risk in the song. Who isn’t afraid of the risks, that won’t drink champagne (Russian proverb). I remember that the team of Sergey Lazarev struggled to gain the higher positions making the superb visual effects, completely English… Read more »

Last edited 28 days ago by Sultan
nns
nns
28 days ago

What an icon, good luck Russia at ESC. I think Russia are a dark horse and will surprise a lot of people and get a great result!!

esc1234
esc1234
28 days ago

I would be delighted to see her winning and i mean it. She is singing in Russian about female empowerment and regardless of the huge amount of hate she receives, she spreads positivity. A victory after so many kirkorov entries would be the best thing ever.

Last edited 28 days ago by esc1234
Jay
Jay
28 days ago

It’s terrible

Alphalpha
Alphalpha
28 days ago
Reply to  Jay

Your taint!

raylee
raylee
28 days ago

You are a bigger inspiration Manizha , believe me 🙂

Dawid
Dawid
29 days ago

Funny how people from Russia complain that the most russian entry probably forever is not “russian enough” and same people loved Sergey singing basic powerballad in english. That’s beyond my comprehension

Joe
Joe
28 days ago
Reply to  Dawid

This is the first Russian entry I’ve ever really rooted for. They normally aren’t anywhere near my favorites but this year they’ve really impressed me.

BadWoolfGirl
BadWoolfGirl
28 days ago
Reply to  Dawid

I’ll tell you my speculation of why why is being considered “not Russian enough”—It’s because Manizha is central Asian, and it’s just racism.

Joe
Joe
29 days ago

Just the fact that she draws inspiration from Dana International, Salvador Sobral, and Bilal is refreshing to hear from a Russian contestant.

Joe
Joe
28 days ago
Reply to  Joe

(Kirkorov covered “Diva” but he’s been a pretty lousy ally, if at all)

Marion
29 days ago

WOW! She’s so talented, kind and pretty! A true artist, just like Salvador, whom I simply adore.

Mr X
Mr X
29 days ago

As a fan of Salvador, I have a lot of support for Manizha.More countries should sing in their own language – that brings diversity to to contest.

Alex
Alex
29 days ago

Manizha is so talented and smart. I wasn’t a fan of the song but now I am. it’s a grower. I love the fact that it’s partly in Russian! I don’t understand why Russia doesn’t send more songs in their native language considering that a big part of the population does not speak/understand English at all.

I’d take this song over the Swedish-penned ballads or the Kontopoulos-penned recycled songs. It’s authentic and honest.

I wish manizha all the best of luck, i hope she qualifies and gives the middle finger to haters.

Darren
29 days ago

I may not be a big fan of the song (even still I’d bop to it if I was out and it played) but we can’t deny that Manizha is the most interesting Russian entry in probably forever.

bartosz
bartosz
29 days ago

You’ve got a small mistake – last time that Russia sent a song in (partially) russian was in 2009, not 2003

Anyway, really nice article 🙂 I really hope that Manizha will get a really good result in May. She deserves it

Darren
29 days ago
Reply to  bartosz

Was 2012 not partially in Russian too?
Genuine question.

Alexander
Alexander
29 days ago
Reply to  Darren

Hi Darren! The song by Buranovskiye Babushki was sung in two languages – English and Udmurt. The latter is not widely spoken in Russia. So I as a Russian citizen, for example, still have no idea what they’re singing about there (apart from the chorus). ^^

Darren
28 days ago
Reply to  Alexander

Ah thank you for clarification haha I had no idea.

Rachel
Rachel
29 days ago
Reply to  Darren

It was in Udmurt, which is a regional language spoken in Udmurtia in Russia 🙂

Darren
28 days ago
Reply to  Rachel

Thank you for clarifying, I had no idea.

Ben
Ben
28 days ago
Reply to  bartosz

No, it said she consider t.A.T.u. from 2003 to be one of her favorites, but Manizha is the first Russian Eurovision contestant in over a decade to sing at least part of their song in Russian, and 2009 was over a decade ago.

bartosz
bartosz
28 days ago
Reply to  Ben

The article is edited now. At first it was written that “it is first song to contain russian lyrics since 2003” or something like that 😉

Last edited 28 days ago by bartosz