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Life echoes art for Ukraine’s Eurovision refugee Jamala


Ukrainian singer Jamala poses after an interview with Reuters in Istanbul

Ukrainian singer Jamala, winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016 who fled the conflict in her nation, poses after an interview with Reuters in Istanbul, Turkey, March 16, 2022. Image: Reuters/Umit Bektas

ISTANBUL — Six years in the past, Ukrainian singer Jamala conquered Europe with a tune about Soviet chief Joseph Stalin’s deportation of lots of of 1000’s of individuals from her Black Sea homeland of Crimea in World War II.

“When strangers are coming, they come to your house. They kill you all and say ‘We’re not guilty,’” she sang in a sombre anthem that was the shock 2016 winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, normally a feast of light-hearted camp.

Now, Jamala is a refugee herself after fleeing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, which drove her and her kids to hunt shelter exterior Ukraine.

“On Feb. 24, my husband woke me up and told me that the war had started and that Russia had attacked us. At that moment, I was shocked. It felt like a nightmare,” she informed Reuters in an interview in Istanbul.

The 38-year-old, whose actual title is Susana Jamaladinova, sheltered in a Kyiv bomb shelter earlier than escaping to Turkey along with her two kids, leaving her husband to battle the approaching Russian military.

The journey to security was not simple, and he or she sang to her kids to distract them from the hazard.

“We were in the car and we heard this bzzzz noise. We saw (a rocket) in front of us,” she stated, describing her confusion about whether or not to press on or flip again. “I was lost, but I had to go forward. It was scary.”

Jamala, a Crimean Tatar whose family members had been victims of the 1944 deportations, urged Europeans to unite behind her nation.

“It is not only a Ukrainian war, it is war against European values,” she stated. “I think we are all in the same boat.”

She took that message earlier this month to Berlin, the place she carried out her 2016 tune once more at a preliminary spherical of this yr’s Eurovision, this time to advertise assist for Ukraine’s military. Russia, which describes its offensive in Ukraine as a “special military operation” is barred this yr.

One of the favorites for the Eurovision remaining, which has an enormous world tv viewers, is Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra. Even although it operates out of the west of the nation, which is much less affected by the three-week battle, band members have needed to rehearse individually whereas they tackle wartime duties.

Lead singer Oleh Psiuk is operating a 20-strong volunteer group, supplying medicines and serving to folks flee the conflict. His girlfriend has been making Molotov cocktails, and one other band member is serving within the territorial protection unit.

For Jamala, initially hesitant about performing whereas her nation was beneath fireplace, doubts vanished when she began to sing: “It seems to me that now this is what I can do. If I can sing and raise money to help Ukraine, I will continue to do it.” JB


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