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TURIN, Italy: Kalush Orchestra aims to “lift the spirits” of their fellow Ukrainians by riding a wave of public support to win the Eurovision Song Contest in the Italian city of Turin on Saturday night.
Their entry “Stefania”, sung in Ukrainian, fuses rap with traditional folk music and is a tribute to frontman Oleh Psiuk’s mother.
Bookmakers have made him the undisputed favorite in the annual contest, which normally draws nearly 200 million viewers, due to Ukraine’s fate following the Russian invasion in February.
“Any victory in any aspect is very important for Ukraine these days, so winning the Eurovision Song Contest would of course lift the spirits of so many Ukrainians when we don’t have a lot of good news these days,” Psiuk told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
The band takes its name from the western Ukrainian town of Kalush. He finished second in the country’s national song contest but replaced winner Alina Pash after controversy over a visit she made to Crimea in 2015, a year after it was annexed by Russia.
“We are here to present Ukrainian culture because attempts are being made these days to kill Ukrainian culture, and we want to show that Ukrainian culture is alive, unique and has its own beautiful signature “, added Psiuk.
One of the band’s regular members remained in Ukraine to help defend kyiv, according to Psiuk, who added that he planned to return home after Eurovision and resume work with a group of volunteers trying to find a job. housing and medicine for his compatriots.
“Even here, outside of Ukraine, we are worried about our family members who remain there, and you wake up every morning not knowing if everyone you love is still alive and where another missile could go. hit,” he added.
Russia, which says it is carrying out a “special military operation” in Ukraine, was excluded from the competition this year.
Italy host after winning last year with Maneskin’s rock “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut Up and Behave).
The contest is decided by a combination of votes from the official jury and viewers from the participating nations.
Eurovision fans, converging on Turin for an event that combines glitz, energy and a healthy dose of eccentricity, welcome the chance to let loose.
“Eurovision is like a bridge to that normal life we had before the war started,” said Vitalii Lirnyk, a member of the official Ukrainian Eurovision fan club, in Turin.
“And maybe for a few minutes, an hour a day, we can just feel safe and normal,” added Lirnyk, who has lived in the United States for a few years.
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