five things to know about the Kalush Orchestra, super star of this 66th edition

Whether they win or not, they are already the stars of the contest. Here’s everything you need to know about the Kalsuh Orchestra, the group that will defend Ukraine’s colors at Eurovision tonight.

Even if they do not win Eurovision this evening, the Ukrainian candidates are already the protagonists of this 66th edition of the competition, more political than ever. Between the pre-parties – these concerts that precede the final and allow you to meet the public – the interviews and the semi-final, the Ukrainians were able to measure their popularity and the outpouring of sympathy throughout Europe, as well as their situation.

“When you see Ukraine, during the first semifinal, take the stage, in front of 10,000 people standing screaming, with tears in their eyes …”, he evokes on BFMTV Michele the singerwhich will host the evening in Turin.

If we have talked a lot about their – complicated – preparation and their involvement in the war against Russia, we know less about the origins of this group and its course. Here’s what you need to know about the Kalush Orchestra, led by Oleh Psiuk, who eternally wears a pink bob.

1 / Originally a rap group

The lineup, launched in 2019, is led by rapper Oleh Psiuk, who has been rapping since he was 15 and is an Eminem fan. The group then consisted of three members – Oleh Psiuk, multi-instrumentalist Igor Didenchuk, and MC Kilimmen (who appeared on stage with his face and hands covered in a mask) – and was simply called KALUSH, named after the hometown of Ole Psiuk. This small town in the foothills of the Carpathians is located southeast of Lviv. The group has already released two albums, Hotin in February and Yo-yoin July 2021. Rapano alone.

At the end of 2021 the Kalush trio launched their new project, Kalush Orchestra. This expanded lineup (Tymofii Muzychuk, Vitalii Duzhyk and Dzhonni Dyvnyy joined them) mixes rap with the folk sounds of traditional Ukrainian music.

“We have three folklore experts in the group who have studied hundreds of these songs in college. Kalush Orchestra is a mix of generations of forgotten old folklore and contemporary rap,” Psiuk explained to Point Oleh.

2 / They suspended their career to get involved in the conflict

Just a few weeks ago, Eurovision was far from the concerns of the Kalush Orchestra members. Appointed a few days before the Russian invasion began, they had to put their tools aside when the offensive began.

In mid-March, Oleh Psiuk had entrusted himself Reuters after joining a group of twenty volunteers who came to the aid of the victims of the conflict, distributing them medicines and helping them escape.

“I can’t rejoice (for Eurovision) because I’m worried about my loved ones,” he said later. “The war has separated me from my girlfriend. She is 300 kilometers from me. We cannot find each other, because it is very dangerous. She is in a bunker and I am there, and the sirens that warn of air raids are constantly ringing.”

Always second Reuters, another member of the group had enlisted in a territory defense unit. The members then rehearsed separately, before they could meet again.

3 / They received special permission to leave Ukraine

The meeting finally took place in April. but they were partial: one of the dancers of the group, engaged in the defense of the territory, could not join them to participate in Eurovision, and was replaced. Wiwibloggs reports that Dzhonni Dyvnyy also had to give up: another artist, Sasha Tab, replaced him at short notice to do the choirs.

Leaving Ukraine to go to Turin was not easy, as Oleh Psiuk explained to BFMTV this week: We couldn’t leave the country for a while. We have received a special permit and, after the competition, we have to go back to our country. “

4 / Song with two meanings

Stefania it was not meant to resonate with the Ukrainian people. Oleh Psiuk originally wrote it for his mother. But the text took on a new meaning in light of the conflict that is shaking the country:

“After the war, it took on a very special dimension, because it is also dedicated to my mother Ukraine. And many people identify with this song,” she said. “I would prefer it not to be the anthem of the war, but the anthem of our victory.”

Oleh’s mother only discovered the song when they participated in Vidbir, the contest that selected them.

5 / They almost did not participate in Eurovision

If they are on the verge of victory, the Kalush Orchestra almost did not participate in the competition. On February 12, Ukrainian singer Alina Pash won Vidbir 2022, a tele-hook whose winner represents the country at Eurovision.

But the 28-year-old singer immediately found herself at the center of a controversy over a trip to Crimea in 2015, territory annexed to Russia in 2014. As the BBC explains, trips to Crimea in Ukraine are seen by the evil eye. The rules for traveling to the peninsula are very strict: Ukrainians can only access it through official checkpoints and the law prohibits them from traveling to the Crimea via Russia. So good that she had to retire, giving way to the Kalush Orchestra, which came second in the Vidbir.

The bettors have established their Top 5. Behind Ukraine’s victory, which they predict overwhelming (they give them a 60% chance of winning), they predict a podium consisting of the UK, Sweden, Italy and Spain. See you this Saturday from 9pm to find out if they were right.

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