ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Attendees of the opening ceremony of the summit enjoy an evening with Ell & Niki, last year’s Eurovision Song Contest winners from Azerbaijan
DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
Ell & Nikki, the Azerbaijani pop duo who won last year’s Eurovision Contest, kicked off the 15th Eurasian Economy Summit with a special show yesterday.
In an interview before their marvelous show at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, the venue for the opening ceremony of the summit, Nikki said the contest changed their lives completely, and now they were constantly traveling through Europe
for concerts. The adjustment seems to suit them. They will be releasing their debut album quite soon, in late April.
The pair won the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 for Azerbaijan
with their entry “Running Scared.” It was the country’s first-ever win at the contest.
Since winning the 2011 Eurovision final, they have traveled to many European countries to perform their winning contest entry. The singers also received the “Peace and Friendship Award” in the Black Sea
province of Zonguldak’s Ereğli district for carrying a Turkish flag onstage during the final scene. Azerbaijan
and Germany have issued a postage stamp dedicated to Azerbaijan’s victory at Eurovision.
Ell and Nikki said they considered Turkey’s 2012 contestant Can Bonomo a very special performer.
Speaking hours before the show, the duo said they had met Bonomo a couple of times and liked his Eurovision song very much, although they said they believed the song was not exactly a Eurovision song.
“Bonomo is very genuine and special and he is an excellent performer,” Ell said, adding Eurovision was not about having a great voice and an excellent song but about being one’s self.
“Whenever we are asked what we suggest to the new contestants, I say that they should be themselves and be open to the audience,” he said.
“Don’t be pretentious and snobbish because when you are not really being yourself the voters feel it,” Nikki added.
The singers actually took part in the Azerbaijani national selection for the contest separately.
They qualified in the semi-finals, along with three other artists, for the final selection on February 11, 2011, where they won the right to represent Azerbaijan
at the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 in Düsseldorf, Germany in May 2011. Although the original plan had been to send an individual to represent Azerbaijan, when the winner was announced, İTV decided that both singers would go to Germany as a duet.
In the 2011 Eurovision song contest, the duo assumed the name Ell & Nikki. Their original names are Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal.
As the contest was taking place in a Western European country, the name change was made to prevent Jamal’s first name from being interpreted as a racial slur.
Azerbaijan won the right to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 when the pair was named the overall winners of the Eurovision final on May 14, 2011.