Tusse will represent Sweden at Eurovision 2021 in Rotterdam with “Voices”.
In a Melodifestivalen that boasted the likes of The Mamas, Charlotte Perrelli and Eric Saade, Tusse shone brightest. The teenage newcomer won the Swedish selection by a landslide. And now he marches onward to Eurovision.
And we’ve compiled 10 facts about the 19-year-old star. Let’s do this!
Sweden at Eurovision 2021: Facts about Tusse
1. He came to Sweden as a refugee
Tusse — real name Tousin Chiza — was born in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo on 1 January 2002. However, he had to leave his family behind as he fled the country to escape war. He settled in the Swedish village of Kullsbjörken in 2015 as a 13-year-old. But he held onto his Congolese heritage. He suggests his upbringing contributed to his musical ability, as music and dance are an integral part of Congolese culture. He remained in contact with his biological family, and his dad supported him during Melodifestivalen.
2. Happiness is his revenge
As a black child coming to Sweden, Tusse struggled to fit in throughout his teenage years. He noted that until the likes of Boris Rene and John Lundvik, there were very few people of colour on the Melodifestivalen stage. And even today, he describes himself as the “odd kid”. He spoke of a liking for skirts and nail polish that many boys are discouraged from using. He uses music as a way of fighting against expectations and prejudice. His performance of “Voices” featured many faces of actors that even he didn’t know. Tusse says that “even if I don’t know them, they still deserve a voice”. He adds: “I always say my mind, I’m always happy, and people kind of have a problem with that so this is kind of my revenge I think”.
3. His mum secretly entered him in Talang 2018
Tusse’s musical talent was evident early on. And, as a 16-year-old, his mother entered him into Talang (Sweden’s Got Talent) without even letting him know. He was first made aware of the application when he received a phone call telling him he was due to audition. His response was to scream in excitement. He reached the semi-final, just missing out on the final. His talents were noted by judge Bianca Ingrosso, the daughter of Pernilla Wahlgren and sister of Benjamin Ingrosso (Sweden 2018).
4. He became a Swedish Idol
Tusse’s hunger for talent shows continued after Talang. The next year, he went on to Swedish Idol. He reached the final, performing a duet with Molly Sanden en route. In the end, he managed to win the contest defeating Freddie Liljegren. His winner’s song “Rain” ended up charting at number 63 on the Swedish charts.
5. He’s always been a big Eurovision fan
Idol also saw Tusse’s memorable performance of Conchita Wurst’s “Rise Like a Phoenix”. In interviews, he’s remarked on his fondness of the contest as a child, and remembers endlessly singing Charlotte Perrelli’s “Hero”. He received a deluge of congratulatory messages upon winning Melfest. However, he says that the one he got from Eurovision 2012 winner Loreen was extra special to him.
As an avid Eurovision fan, Tusse had no idea how to walk around Melodifestivalen surrounded by the greats. He was allocated to the same semifinal as his idol Charlotte Perrelli and remarked on the awkwardness about not knowing whether to greet her in her dressing room. He also reacted with disbelief after being considered the favourite to win next to former winner Eric Saade. At the end of the contest, he was standing next to Eric Saade and the thought of winning never crossed his mind. All he thought was: “S***, I’m standing here with Eric Saade and I have a chance to finish second in Mello”. He famously jumped on and kissed Eric Saade upon winning, a picture that became very popular across Sweden.
6. He doesn’t like to use labels
Tusse uses he/him pronouns but refuses to give a label to his gender identity or sexuality. He has participated in the Pride Parade and has many queer friends. However, he spoke of his dislike of labels in an interview with LGBTQ+ magazine QX. He says: “I have always seen personality before gender. Personally, I’m a little wary of putting labels on others. Also I myself am not so fond of others putting labels on me. There is a freedom in that everyone should be allowed to be who they are and be seen for just that. And in the same way, I want to be seen for who I am. I’m simply Tusse”.
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7. He had to do an essay after winning Melodifestivalen
Tusse was still studying at school throughout his Mello experience. However, it wasn’t something he was particularly happy about, saying “I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy”. When asked by presenter Måns Zelmerlöw “are you excited for Eurovision now?”, he replied, “No, on Monday I have to hand in an essay in Nature science. Which I’m very excited for.” During the songwriting process, he spent the summer writing many songs with Joy Deb, Linnea Deb and Jimmy “Joker” Thörnfeldt but none of them felt right, So he went home to Dalarna. But the next day, they found “Voices” and Tusse skipped a driving lesson to go straight back to Stockholm. Priorities!
8. He has hits in English and Swedish
“Voices” is easily Tusse’s biggest hit to date. It smashed his previous chart high with “Rain”, topping the chart for two weeks in March. Now, in mid-April and seven weeks after its first release, the single remains inside the Swedish top ten. However, Tusse is much more than a one-hit wonder. His back catalogue is rich with musical treats. “My Soul Is Calling You” is a tribute to his mother. There’s also the ballad “A Better You” and a cover of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” from his time on Idol. He released his first Swedish-language song “Innan du går” (Before You Go) in 2020. That was followed by “Jag tror på sommaren”.
9. He has incredible home support
Tusse’s victory in Melodifestivalen was absolutely record-breaking. He became the first act to gain the maximum 96 points since the introduction of age group voting in 2019. No one, even in all the semi-finals, has been able to get 12 points from all demographics. He managed to achieve this in the final, and gained over a million more votes than his nearest rival The Mamas. His final tally of 2,964,269 was a record, eclipsing John Lundvik by well over 700,000 votes.
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10. He understands style
His nails, his hair, his suits. This guy gets it. We can’t wait to see what he wears in Rotterdam.
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Are you excited to see what Tusse brings to Rotterdam? Can he get another Swedish win? Let us know below.
He was not born on 1 January 2002. The exact day of his birth is unknown and 1 January is used as an official day of birth in all cases when only birth year is known. Many refugees have 1 January as a registered day of birth.
He came to Sweden on his 13 years old, did he live with a family or was he really living alone? Really interesting story
Anyway his song is my 4th and he’s such a nice and bubbly personality, I really like him
I think he was younger like 8 when he came.
He was younger than that when he came to Sweden, like 8 years old or so, He lived with his aunt I believe, so he wasn’t alone.
It says a lot that many people criticized his song in the WiwiJury (myself included), but practically all comments and reviews were complimentary to Tusse as a person and performer. Such a talented young man, that I feel we’ll see more than just one time singing in Eurovision.
Yes, but Sweden’s got talent is not a show with quality in general. Bianca is quite popular. Many people say they find it funny when she’s rude and seems to lack knowledge on most things. She’s also considered a role model. I loved Benjamin’s latest EP in Swedish. His songwriting skills are good in my opinion.
She is a talet herself, she is richer than both her brother and mother put together due to her strategic and successful entreprenurship
After her brother’s embarassing moment in ESC18 with televoting, I doubt she will do Eurovision lol.
Weird that he does not want to express his sexual orientation, Sweden is an open minded society. So he left his family and went to Sweden alone or Swedish couple adopted him and brought him to Sweden? Either way, interesting life story. He’s like the third Melodi-winning act in a row that is black and not born in Sweden. I like his song but it’s not something wow or special. It’s a well produced pop song that we’ve heard before. It should do well with juries and do almost as good as Sweden 2019 in televoting (less than 100 pts).… Read more »
He is typically Swedish. In Sweden you don’t need to express your sexual orientation if you don’t want that. There are many that call themselves hen. It is a new pronoun that is between man, that is han, in Swedish and a woman, that is hon in Swedish. Hen is neither.
Two thirds of The Mamas were born in Sweden, Loulou and Dinah.
Does the concept of privacy not exist to you?
He is expressing himself. He’s just not expressing himself in a way that fits neatly into binary labels.
i’d love to see the same staging at ESC as At Melodifedtivalen
There will be some minor changes. New outfit, new lighting!
wow doing an essay after winning mello is tough isn’t it
Am I the only one who finds these stories about all the innocent underaged participants really funny? The song is not the definition of originality but Tusse is adorable
Underaged? He is 19, that’s not underage. And who are te other participants you call underage?
Oh, sorry, I thought he was 18…
Anyway, I didn’t mean it negatively (also I’m not talking about this year specifically)
Hmm, in all of the Ingrosso/Wahlgren familj she’s probably the one who sings the best.
One of our most distinguished music producers Ola Håkansson have said that he never met such a talent as Benjamin Ingrosso. It is strange they way people here are mobbing him. He is genuine and writes his own music, can sing and dance. Saying that he is without talent is just sad.
Tusse seems like a very nice and humble person. Many people who have met him says he’s probobly the most humble person they’ve met. I think this is one of the keys to his success at home and it really shines through the screen as well.
My favourite swedish entry since 2015, good luck Tusse!
Tusse seems to be a sweet and outgoing person, I am so happy for him that he can go to Rotterdam.
Also, he is a great performer and singer. Unfortunately, I am not feeling the song, only a tiny bit. Production-wise, the song is well-produced but nothing we had not heard before. Sorry ):
But if others like the song, I am fine with it. It is still a 6/10 for me and wish him the best!
First person to win both Idol and Melodifestivalen, and he did it all before turning 20. That is life goals achieved!