Jamala to perform new album for Eurovision

Jamala to perform new album for Eurovision

Jamala to perform new album for Eurovision

Jamala and the orchestra were supposed be on stage, but they are sheltering in a basement.

Warnings of shelling and missile attacks had them below ground at the Kiev Opera House instead of getting ready to perform for an audience.

The Ukrainian singer was at the venue to debut a selection of songs from her new album “Qirim,” a collection of Crimean Tatar tracks that was years in the making.

Musicians, sound engineers and lighting technicians were sheltering with her, waiting for the air raid threat to pass.

“It’s not normal, but, you know, it’s our life. It’s our everyday life in Kyiv,” Jamala said, speaking in the U.K. the following week.

And the show did go on, if a little late.

“For me, it was really important sign for the whole world that despite of everything, we are fighting our front-line war, (for) our culture, our heritage, for our history,” she said of the concert in Kiev last Friday.

“Qirim” expands on the connection Jamala felt with her heritage when she performed a song about her ancestors at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. She won the competition that year in Stockholm with “1944,” which is about the deportation of Crimean Tartars.

And while lot of groups sing in English at Eurovision in hopes of reaching a bigger audience, Jamala took the top prize singing in a foreign language that would be familiar in only small pockets of the world.

“It was for the very first time that the world had listened to Crimean Tatar language. And all the Turkic world was so happy because it was the first time the Turkic language won in Eurovision,” she recalled.

She had been warned that the song was too dramatic, that audiences wouldn't connect with the pain of the deportation or with her family's history.

“But I said, ‘No, if people feel that it’s true, that they feel it’s so pure and honest, they believe me.’ And it happened.”

A similar pursuit of purity drove the album that is set for release this week.

Jamala dove deeper into the customs of her ancestors, looking for songs to represent different areas of the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014 in a move that most of the world regards as illegal.

She became part detective, part music historian as she puzzled together melodies and stories from folklore.

“I didn’t expect to find these treasures when I started this project,” she said. “It’s like a diary, very personal stories.”