Eden Alene will represent Israel at Eurovision 2021 with “Set Me Free”.
Eden was originally due to sing “Feker Libi” at Eurovision 2020. However, the contest was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, just like several other countries, Israel rested its usual artist selection process for one year and internally selected Eden instead. Her entry “Set Me Free” beat out two other tracks in a televised song selection show.
And now we’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Eden Alene. Let’s do this!
Israel at Eurovision 2021: Facts about Eden Alene
1. She will be the first Ethiopian solo artist at Eurovision
The Ethiopian-Armenian Vahe Tilbian may have sung for Armenia in 2015 as part of Genealogy, but Eden Alene will the first Ethiopian to go solo at the contest. In Israel, that’s a big deal, because the Ethiopian minority is often underrepresented in key roles. Recent controversies also arose over the treatment of the Ethiopian minority in the country. Her 2020 song “Feker Libi” even included Ethiopian instruments and Amharic lyrics.
2. She loves her roots and this she knows!
Just like her song “Roots” suggests, Eden is proud of her background. Both her parents were born and raised in Ethiopia. Speaking to Maariv after the 2020 national selection, Alene said: “I think I’m going to concentrate on me having a dark colour, brown chocolate. It’s going to be my own #MeToo. But I’ll bring it out through the music.” She also said being Israel’s first black representative since 2006 is a source of pride for her.
3. She served in the Israeli Defense Forces
Eden Alene started her mandatory army service in October 2018. During her time she was lead vocalist in the Israel Defence Forces band. Here’s a video of her military base welcoming her back after winning the Israeli selection in 2020. In fact, Eden was still serving when she was initially selected for Eurovision over a year ago. She had to carefully manage her time between the army and performing.
4. She’s close with her mum
Eden grew up in Katamon, a multi-cultural neighbourhood in Jerusalem, with her two Ethiopian parents. They divorced when Eden was only two and today she lives with her mother Zehava. She’s no longer in touch with her father. Leaving their past behind, Eden and her mother – a single daughter and a single mum – moved to the southern town of Kiryat Gat. Her mum worked as a housekeeper to help fund her daughter’s dreams.
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5. She’s got the X Factor
In the third season of X Factor Israel, then 17-year-old Eden Alene took gold. She brought pride to the Ethiopian minority in Israel with some stunning performances. Watch her mum freak out with joy backstage during Eden’s first audition. Having won The Next Star for Eurovision in 2020, Eden is the only Israeli to have won two major reality singing shows.
6. She’s got confidence
When she participated in X Factor Israel, she kept her expectations low until she won. However, she showed impeccable optimism coming into The Next Star for Eurovision,. “The crowd loved me, I was good, I worked my ass off. I came to win”, she told Walla!. She showed the same kind of power after the announcement that she will represent Israel at Eurovision 2021. She told KAN on live TV: “Our song will be even better, even though [“Feker Libi”] was stunning, and we will win!”.
7. She’s a dancer
Those who’ve followed Eden’s career through the years will have noticed her strong dance skills. Her live performances regularly feature highly choreographed routines. Eden has danced since childhood, studying ballet for ten years.
8. She’s an anime otaku
In her first Next Star interview, Eden was asked when she started singing. She then told the story of how she sat on a bench as a little girl and sang songs from Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch — an anime TV series. According to her, people would occasionally walk by and ask her to keep singing.
9. She’s a Eurofan
Speaking to Walla!, Eden revealed her love for Eurovision. “I didn’t go to Next Star because it’s a reality TV show. I came because it’s Eurovision, one of the biggest things in existence today, one of the biggest stages in the world. (…) Eurovision has always been a dream, but I only realised it was a dream after Kobi Marimi’s [year].” In February 2019, Eden released a cover of Brotherhood of Man’s Eurovision 1976 winner “Save Your Kisses for Me”.
10. She has quite the vocal range
From Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke to Albania’s Eugent Bushpepa, Eurovision has seen its fair share of wide-range singers. However, Eden may be on track to set a new vocal record in Rotterdam. Fans have noted that the whistle note in “Set Me Free” might be the highest note in Eurovision history. According to Eurovision 2014’s ‘Book Of Records’, the highest note thus far belongs to Maja Blagdan and “Sveta ljubav” (Croatia 1996), which has a Bb6. But Eden’s B6 note is one half-note higher, making her the new record holder. This isn’t the first time Eden has showcased her ridiculous five-octave range. The pre-chorus for “Savior in the Sound” (0:35) sees the singer uses her low chest registers, hitting a C2 note, then end the performance with some wild high notes. She’s got a set of pipes!
Can Eden prolong Israel’s qualification streak? What do you think of “Set Me Free”? Let us know in the comments below.