Eurovision Winner Jamala Calls For Peace In Europe

The “1944” singer shared the stage with Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello, & Emeli Sandé.

by Rachel Mantock
Eurovision Winner Jamala Calls For Peace In Europe
Gerald Matzka/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

If you’d tuned in to ITV’s Concert for Ukraine, you might have recognised a familiar face and a familiar song in the form of Eurovision’s winning song “1944”. In 2016, Jamala and Ukraine were crowned Eurovision winners, but recent events have given new meaning to her winning performance. Forced to flee her home recently, the Eurovision winner — real name Susana Alimivna Jamaladinova — performed at Concert for Ukraine on Mar. 29, in Birmingham.

The song that won her the Eurovision crown six years ago, was a rework of “1944”, per NME. The original ballad is about Soviet forces entering Crimea, under Joseph Stalin, in the Tartar language. An experience Jamala's own grandmother lived through, driven from her home in Crimea at the time. And now, Jamala and her family have come face to face with an eerily similar experience.

According to France 24, her husband woke her up at 5 a.m when news broke of the Russian invasion, telling her Russian forces had invaded their country. With two toddlers in tow, they, like many others, found their passports and fled. They travelled to Ternopil in Western Ukraine. But distressed by the sound of explosions, they left for the Romanian border after one night. With only women and children allowed to cross, her husband returned to the capital Kyiv to join Ukrainian forces. Eventually making it to Istanbul, in a live interview with BBC Breakfast in February, she explained her friends and family were still in danger.

“My family, my husband, all my team, all my musical band, all my friends are in Kyiv in bomb shelters,” she said.

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At the time of the 2016 Eurovision contest, two years prior, Russia had seized control of Crimea again, annexing them from Ukraine. During ITV’s Concert for Ukraine, she held up a Ukrainian flag while performing her country’s national anthem, and her winning song, “1944”. Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello, Snow Patrol, and Emeli Sandé also performed.

Afterwards, in her interview with AFP, she commented, “We are a new generation, (we think) about peace, about how to collaborate, about how to unite but we see these terrible things. This war is happening before the eyes of the world. We should understand that it's really terrorism, it's a really cruel war in central Europe.”