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UK’s Eurovision will be ‘greatest’ yet, says former Ukrainian winner Jamala

Jamala has released a single titled Thank You, Stranger to show the world her ‘deep gratitude’ for their support through the war (PA)
Jamala has released a single titled Thank You, Stranger to show the world her ‘deep gratitude’ for their support through the war (PA)

Ukrainian Eurovision winner Jamala has said next year’s song contest, set to be held in the UK, will be the “greatest Eurovision” yet.

The singer-songwriter, 38, has been fundraising for her country through various concerts, interviews and festival appearances, and partnered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to release a song and video titled Thank You, Stranger – a way of showing “deep gratitude” to countries around the world for their ongoing support throughout the war.

Jamala won Eurovision in 2016 with her song 1944 and said the UK is the “best place in the world” to host the competition, despite admitting she first held hope Ukraine would be able to host following Kalush Orchestra’s win in Turin.

“For me, (the UK) is the best place in the world in music,” she told the PA news agency.

“That’s why Eurovision in your country is the best place for me – you are about music, you are full of different kinds of styles and genres.

“And I think it will be the greatest Eurovision.”

Jamala had initially hoped that Ukraine may win the war and would “have time to prepare” for Eurovision, but she understands it must be in “a safe place for participants and its audience”.

She said her track Thank You, Stranger was partly inspired by The Beatles’ music and aims to demonstrate how grateful Ukraine is for the global support and millions in donations the country has received after months of “life-changing” conflict.

“How is it possible in the 21st century, in front of the whole world to see, (our) neighbour start killing us?” she said.

“I don’t want to be in a bomb shelter, I don’t want to cover my kids because of the bombs.

Jamala
Jamala said Thank You, Stranger is partly inspired by The Beatles (PA)

“As a mother of two little sons, as a singer, as an activist, it’s important to be a part of this fight for my right to live in my home.

“Why are we forced to flee our homes? Why? It’s so unfair.

“It’s really important to not forget that every single minute, we lose people in my country.”

Using real footage, an accompanying video for the single recalls moments from the beginning of the war, Ukrainian refugees’ journeys to neighbouring countries, the hospitality of the local people and life under new circumstances.

The campaign also allows Ukrainians to write a thank you note to those who have helped them via a form on Jamala’s website and within two weeks she will perform a section of Thank You, Stranger for the addressee through Instagram story or send a postcard.

“When the war started on February 24, I started my frontline marathon in support of Ukraine – which does not stop for a day,” she explained.

“It’s broadcast interviews, charity actions, more than 20 countries are behind us.

Eurovision Song Contest
The former Eurovision winner performed at Glastonbury and has been touring Europe to raise funds for Ukraine (Yui Mok/PA)

“It’s really complicated to explain how grateful (I am) to every person who helped Ukraine… that’s how the single was born.”

She added that the song is able to say what words cannot.

“Music can say and can do a lot for these days,” she said.

“It’s even stronger than just words.

“It shows our deep gratitude to the millions of incredible people who have sheltered and supported Ukrainians.”

Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds are among the seven cities shortlisted to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in place of Ukraine.

They will battle it out alongside Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield in the next stage of the bidding process to host the 67th Eurovision Song Contest.