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.