Anxhela Peristeri will represent Albania at Eurovision 2021 with her song “Karma”.
Anxhela — pronounced like Angela, the English version of her name — got her ticket to Eurovision after winning Festivali i Këngës 59 — the annual music festival used to choose Albania’s Eurovision act. She was a favourite with many before the national selection and, now, she’s heading to The Netherlands with the country’s third non-English entry since 2018.
But who is the woman behind the song? We’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Anxhela Peristeri. Let’s do this!
Albania at Eurovision 2021: Facts about Anxhela Peristeri
1. She studied violin and opera
Back in her hometown of Korça, Anxhela studied violin in high school. She later moved to the capital Tirana to study in an artistic lyceum for opera. It was here that she began to build up her musical career.
2. She competed in the first edition of Miss Albania
In 2001, while Anxhela was trying to find a way to start her musical career, another door opened to her — Miss Albania. She has said in television interviews that she agreed to compete in the competition only because competitors could showcase a talent on one of the nights. And that was the perfect opportunity for Anxhela to introduce Albania to her singing abilities.
3. She first competed at Festivali i Këngës in 2001
Right after Miss Albania, Anxhela did like many up-and-coming singers and tried her look at Festivali i Këngës. She competed in the 40th edition of the Festival in a duet with Alfred Meminaj. They sang “Vetëm Ty Të Kam”, but lost out to Aurela Gaçe. Eurovision wasn’t on the table as Albania would not debut in the contest until 2004.
4. She moved to Greece
After finishing her studies in Albania, Anxhela took a radical step and moved to Greece. She was presented with many new opportunities here. After moving to Thessaloniki, she started to perform in venues throughout the city. She networked with many Greek artists, such as Eleni Foureira, and began to undertake collaborations.
5. She tried out for the X Factor
As Anxhela continued to climb within the Greek industry, she decided to try out for X Factor Greece. While she didn’t win, it still remains a key moment in her career. In 2019, the songstress marked the anniversary of her first audition with a post on Instagram. Along with footage from the show, she wrote: “11 years ago in X Factor Greece I tried my luck!”. She admits that her “legs were shaking”. However, “My artistic journey has been full of sacrifices, hard work and never fatigue!”.
View this post on Instagram
6. She won Kënga Magjike
In 2014, after several years in Greece, Anxhela realised that she missed her homeland too much. So, she returned to Albania. This comeback would see her enter some of the most prestigious competitions in the Albanian music industry. She won Kënga Magjike 2017 with “E Çmendur”. The song was composed by Kledi Bahiti with lyrics by Olti Curri — the same team behind “Karma”. She also participated in other important festivals like Top Fest and Netët e Klipit Shqiptar.
7. She won Your Face Sounds Familiar and learned from her mistakes
Anxhela quickly came to the attention of TV producers and in 2016 she took part in the Albanian version of Your Face Sounds Familiar. Many international editions of the celebrity impersonation show have come under criticism for the use of blackface performances, especially following the BLM protests in 2020. During her stint, Anxhela darkened her skin to impersonate Aretha Franklin and Etta James. However, she has since apologised. She thanked fans for allowing her to grow and helping her understand the problem.
— Anxhela Peristeri (@AnxhelaPeriste4) January 28, 2021
8. She was awarded the Kult Award
The Kult Award is one of the biggest awards which an Albanian artist can receive. In 2019, Anxhela won the gong for her song “Pa Mua”. Other nominated names included Elvana Gjata and Kejsi Tola. Anxhela donated all proceeds from the award to those affected by the Albanian earthquake of November 2019.
9. She’s also a songwriter
Anxhela is also known as a songwriter. She has written songs for close friends like Era Rusi and Aurel Thellimi, as well as for herself. And we can reveal that soon a song that she wrote for another artist will be published and take part in Kënga Magjike.
10. She drinks coffee but it has to be decaffeinated
Anxhela isn’t allergic to caffeine as some might think. But she prefers to drink her brew decaffeinated since caffeine makes her anxious. Since her health is so important to her, she just stays away from caffeine completely.
What do you think of Anxhela’s career? Are you excited to see “Karma” at Eurovision? Let us know in the comments below.