Friday, March 10, 2017

Eurovision coming to Ukraine in May 2017

Jamala at Eurovision 2016

As the deadline for entry looming on March 13, the world is wondering if Russia will show this year. With Eurovision set to be staged in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, in May, the political statement from last year's defeat might be an insurmountable hurdle for moscow, where lawmakers and a leading pop star are calling for Russia to boycott the competition. The Kremlin has said it believes there could be security problems for Russians in Ukraine. Following Ukraine's victory at the 2016 contest in Stockholm with the song "1944", written and performed by Jamala, which was thought to be a thinly veiled protest against Russia's annexation of Crimea, a coup of sorts showing European support of Ukraine in the conflict has caused Russia some consternation.

Susana Alimivna Jamaladinova (Crimean Tatar: Susana Alimivna Camaladinova; Ukrainian: Сусана Алімівна Джамаладінова; Russian: Суса́нна Алимовна Джамалади́нова), is better known by her stage name Jamala.  Jamala is a Ukrainian singer, actress and songwriter of Crimean Tatar descent.

Susanna was born in Osh, Kirghiz SSR, to a Crimean Tatar father and an Armenian mother. Her Crimean Tatar ancestors were forcefully resettled from Crimea to the central Asian republic under Joseph Stalin during World War II. In 1989 her family returned to Crimea. During this Soviet era, authorities did not allow ethnic Tatars, like Jamala's father, to purchase property in Crimea. Her parents divorced for four years so that her mother could purchase a house in Crimea for the family under her maiden name. 

Jamala speaks Russian as her mother tongue, and she is also fluent in Ukrainian. She is not fluent in Crimean Tatar. Although her song was titled 1944 and was about her ancestry, it was clearly relevant to 2014 and the Russian annexation of Crimea. Will the Russians hold a grudge and do a no show?  As of today, they have not yet declared an act. 

Even more interesting is that Ukraine has announced that Torvald will represent Ukraine in 2017 with an alternative heavy metal number in English called "Time." This I cannot wait to see. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Happy Birthday, Taras Shevchenko

On the 9th of March in 1814, Taras Shevchenko was born in Moryntsi but his family moved back to the ancestral village of Kyrylivka (now village of Shevchenkove, Zvenigorodsky region, Ukraine). His ancestors were Cossacks involved in the uprisings of the 17th and 18th centuries. He was an accomplished artist and an even greater writer. His Kobzar collection of poetry is the most famous book in Ukrainian. My tattered childhood copy remains with me in my library in Ireland today. In honour of Taras, I will read a poem today. RIP.

Taras and pals. Taras in the hat. 1859.


Ancestral home drawn by Taras Shevchenko. 

Тарас Шевченко. Повне зібрання творів в десяти томах. — К., 1961. — Т. 7: Живопис, графіка 1830-1847. — Кн. 1-2., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8549252

"Gypsy Fortune-Teller", by Taras Shevchenko, a watercolor composition of 1841 was awarded a silver medal by the Council of the Academy of Arts.
Т. Шевченко. Цыганка-ворожея. 1841. Национальный музей Т. Шевченко