Jamala brought Ukraine it's second Eurovision song contest victory last night. But who is she?
Susana Jamaladinova (32) aka Jamala is a spinto soprano who composes her on muic, and mixes jazz, soul, world music, r'n'b, classical and even opera. She was born in Kirghiz, then USSR from a Crimean Tatar father and Armenian mother. Stalin deported her family there - and that's what her winning song 1944 is all about. They had 15 minutes to pack up their belongings and were forcibly deported to Uzbekistan. Crimean Tatars received a very unfriendly welcome there as the Soviet propaganda already worked with the country’s residents. The family returned to Crimea after Ukraine's independance.
Now a similar story is happening to Jamala as she can’t visit Crimea where her 87-year-old grandfather lives. Her music school in Crimea even removed her portrait from the honoring display.
Jamala started singing publicly at the age of 15 and participated in many talent contests all over Ukraine, Russia and Europe, especially in Italy. Soon she was spotted and landed a leading role in musical and by 2009 she was at the New Wave contest in Jurmala, Latvia that she won despite "not fitting the form" as commented by the chief director of the festival.
Since then she was a regular in Ukrainian tv and events, and in 2011 it was time to try out the Eurovision with Smile. She made the finals and was set to win it but withdraw two days before the new final that was set claiming there was still the some vote rigging going on.
Following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea Jamala claims that her relatives are abused and she is portrayed as an "American stooge" or "a fascist" for emerging to side against Russia. She has not visited her family in Crimea since the summer of 2014. Jamala had expressed her active civil stance long before Euromaidan. However, after the annexation, the time for the real fight came.
Jamala is not the only artist whose work was affected by events happening in Ukraine.
“It would be far-fetched to say that the annexation of Crimea particularly influenced my work. On the other hand, events in the country coincided with some period of my maturing. It was impossible not to dive into it. And everybody, including me, has changed after it.”
Jamala is a fighter for the Crimean Tatar rights. The message which Jamala wants to send by her performance is the following:
“If you respect your family, remember your roots, know your culture, history, you will never show disrespect or aggression towards another culture. To the contrary, you will be interested in it and try to understand it.”
In 2014 she also starred in film The Guide.