Ukraine must not pass up chance to perform at Eurovision, says Jamala

Former Eurovision winner Jamala has said Ukraine cannot afford to “give up” the opportunity to raise awareness of Russia’s invasion by performing at the song contest, amid boycott calls over Israel’s participation.

The 40-year-old Ukrainian fears the UK public is growing “tired” about the war in Ukraine, but has urged this year’s Eurovision entry from her country to be “loud and creative” while continuing to highlight the conflict taking place.

She told the PA news agency: “Some countries may refuse to participate (in the contest), but we don’t. Especially we cannot afford to give up such a contest in time of war.

“There are many wars now in the world and, of course, it is not easy to constantly keep attention on yourself so that people do not get tired of our war.

Jamala has urged Ukraine’s 2024 Eurovision entrants to be ‘loud and creative’ while highlighting Russia’s invasion (Vladyslav Tomik)

“But that is our task, people who remain in Ukraine, people who are fighting, to be as loud and creative … this is the task of artists to find new ways of how to reveal and show their country.”

It comes after the Irish entrant, Bambie Thug, previously backed “an immediate and lasting ceasefire” but has refused to boycott the event.

Alongside UK contender, Olly Alexander, and Danish hopeful, Saba, the artists said in a statement: “It is important to us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and communicate our heartfelt wish for peace, an immediate and lasting ceasefire, and the safe return of all hostages.

“We stand united against all forms of hate, including antisemitism and Islamophobia.”

Rapper and singer duo, Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil, will represent Ukraine at Eurovision, which will be held in Malmo, Sweden, after Loreen’s victory in Liverpool last year.

Jamala hopes the duo can use their creativity to raise awareness about the war in Ukraine, which she feels is not as prominent in the news compared to two years ago following Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022.

“I hope that Alyona Alyona & Jerry Heil, as a duo, will still give many interviews and talk about the fact that the war in Ukraine continues,” said the singer, who won the Eurovision for Ukraine in Stockholm in 2016 with her song 1944.

Jamala was part of the jury to select this year’s entry for Ukraine and described the duo as “so different”.

“I really cheered for the girls,” she said.

“They have a great song and the girls are really so different.”

She described their new “lyrical” song as “very cool and wonderful in terms of creativity”.

Jamala hopes Ukraine will be highlighted at the Eurovision, but recognises it is “not logical” as she feels there is less focus on Ukraine in the news today compared to the start of the war.

Jamala Eurovision
Jamala thanked the UK Government and the British public for their continued support for Ukraine (Vladyslav Tomik)

“The war is still going on and women and children are being killed in our country by Russian bombs and missiles. Also, every day soldiers die and it is terrible,” she said.

“It is natural to count on the fact that there will be some special dedication to Ukraine (at the Eurovision) – it is simply not logical, so to speak.”

Jamala expressed her excitement for this year’s Eurovision and looks forward to seeing Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil perform their song, Teresa and Maria, in Malmo.

“I am always excited before and during the Eurovision Song Contest because a contest like the Eurovision cannot leave aside all the people who are interested in music, fashion and even graphic design as it sets new trends to some extent,” she said.

She thanked the UK Government and the general public for their continued support for Ukrainians.

“I want to thank everyone from the UK Government to the people who support us not only with words, but also with actions and weapons.

“The most important thing for us now is support.”