Ever wondered about what happened to our Eurovision performers and presenters from years gone by, after they graced the Eurovision stage? Well, we at Eurovision Ireland have created our series “Here today, Gone Tomorrow to answer that question ! Today we turn our attention to a past performer and presenter Ruslana from Ukraine !
The Personal side of Ruslana.
Ruslana was born in 1973 in the Ukranian town of Lviv , to a Ukrainian father and a Russian mother and was raised there. Her early love of music began at the tender age of 4 years old when she studies at a music school and then sang in different bands , one being the children’s band Usmishka ( Smile) . In 1989, she performed on the Druzhba stadium . After finishing secondary school, Ruslana entered the Lviv conservatory , from where she graduated as a classical pianist and symphonic orchestra conductor in 1995 .In 1996, she won the Slavianski Bazaar song competition in Belarus and was also nominated Ukranian singer of the year.She met and married her producer . Oleksander Ksenofontov in 1995 In 1998, she started to become more widely recognized with the song “Svitanok “( Sunrise ) and the album “Myt’ vesny Dzvinkyi viter” ( A moment of Spring-Wind Bells) . In 1999, she worked on a Christmas Musical “Ostanne Rizdvo 90th” ( Last Christmas of the 90’s).
Ruslana at Eurovision
In 2004, having already become an established star in Ukraine,Ruslana was chosen by the Ukrainian broadcaster, NTU , to represent Ukraine at the Contest in Istanbul, Turkey. She was to be the 2nd participant for Ukraine in the contest after they debuted in 2003 , with Oleksandr and “Hasta la Vista”. She came to Istanbul with song “Wild Dances ” with a stage performance including…wild dancing , whips, furs, leathers, in the mode of Zena , Warrior Princess !In the build up to the contest Ruslana raised eyebrows when she and her dancers broke the stage during rehearsals. As Terry Wogan said in his UK commentary at the time, ” It’s a far cry from Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson”. Establishing as an early favourite, Ruslana and her dancers took part in Eurovision’s first ever semi final and easily passed through to the Grand Final. They won the whole contest with 280 points , achieving victory for Ukraine in only their 2nd year of participation in the contest!
Ruslana after Eurovision
The winning song, ” Wild Dances” became popular throughout Europe , charting in a lot of countries , it was at number 1 in Belgium for 10 weeks ! At the Eurovision Song Contest , to be held in Kyiv the following year, Ruslana was chosen as one of the hosts but had to pull out due to becoming involved in a large charity concert for the victims of the Chernobyl disaster. However she made a guest appearance , in the green room and also performing on stage .
In 2006, Ruslana went to Germany to support the Ukrainian World cup football team at that year’s world cup. In 2009, she was well received by the Asian people when she appeared at the Asia Song festival in Seoul , Korea. She won best artist there. In 2011 , she appeared as a judge on Voice of Ukraine .
Ruslana has never forgotten how Eurovision helped her to become more widely recognized and over the years she has made an appearance at national finals , been on the jury at Belgian Eurosong in 2014 and also at Ukraine’s own national selection, Vidbir . In 2016 she was the only panel member at Vidbir to support that year’s Ukrainain performer, Jamala, who had entered the competition with her song “1944”. It turns out that her judgment was correct as Jamala went on to win the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm .
When Eurovision returned to Kyiv in 2017 , following Jamala’s victory in 2016, Ruslana made a guest appearance, performing ” It’s Magical ” as an interval act at the Grand Final.
Ruslana & Politics
Not only did Ruslana become more widely known in the music world, she also made a name for herself on the Ukrainian political scene. After her Eurovision victory in 2004, she actively supported the democratic process in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution , declaring herself in support of Viktor Yushchenko . She attended mass rallies, supporting a re-run of the Ukrainian elections, as there were claims that the original election had been rigged in favour of pro Moscow candidate, Viktor Yanukovych . Eventually, victory went to Viktor Yushchenko, who appeared on stage with Ruslana at the Eurovision 2005 Grand Final in Kyiv, to present the winners trophy, and from Spring 2006-Summer 2007, Ruslana became a member of the Ukrainian parliament , travelling around the world , asking for support for Ukraine. Her activities often put her in serious danger, when she supported EU sanctions against President Yanukovych and Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2013-2014. As a result, she won the International Woman of Courage and Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership awards in 2014
Today, Ruslana still appears on the Eurovision scene, she performed at Het Grote Song Festivalfeest in 2019
I think we can all agree that Ruslana has made quite a name for herself, musically and politically and is certainly not a performer we will easily forget. To finish , take a look at an interview done by Eurovision Ireland in 2016 by my colleague, Lisa -Jayne .
Keep a look out for more in weeks to come of our Series ” Here today, Gone Tomorrow”, where we will continue to take a look at the fates and fortunes of past Eurovision stars and presenters.
Author: Sarah Rudman
Source : Eurovision Ireland , You Tube, Wikipedia , NTU