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Road to Liverpool: Albania

We can not wait for the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool. Therefore, we have a closer look at one of the contestants every day. Today: Albania.

Albina and Familja Kelmendi

Albina and Familja Kelmendi were chosen to represent Albania. Their song is “Duje”, which means “Love it”. The song is written by Eriona Rushiti and composed by Enis Mulaj. Albina was born in Peja, Kosovo (then part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). She studied clarinet and piano at a music school in her hometown and began performing with her family under the name Family Band. She became famous in 2014, when she was runner-up in the fourth season of The Voice of Albania. A year later, she took part in the twelfth edition of Top Fest, where she presented the song “Nuk ka ma mirle”.

In June 2022, Albina Kelmendi released her debut album, “Nana loke”. In December of the same year, she participated in the 61st Song Festival, where she presented the song “Duje” together with her family. They were chosen to represent Albania.

Festivali i Këngës

Although Albania debuted in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004, their national selection Festivali i Këngës already excists since 1962. It is a national songcontest, held in the last week of the year. Famous and almost legendary is Vaçe Zela (1939-2014). This singer/songwriter won Festivali i Këngës no less than 11 times!! In the years when Albania was a dictatorship, the festival was used a lot of times for propaganda. In 1972, dictator Enver Hoxha was critical of the festival and its organizers, accusing them of promoting decadent Western values and being enemies of the people. He believed that the festival was not promoting authentic Albanian culture and was instead catering to foreign influences. The organizers of the festival were prosecuted for this.
Since 2003, the winner of Festival i Këngës goes to Eurovision the next year, with the exception of 2014. Because a disagreement arose between the composer of “Diell” and the Albanian broadcaster, the former withdrew the song for Eurovision participation. Singer Elhaida Dani then got another song for the Eurovision Song Contest 2015. In 2022, for the first time the winner did not go to Eurovision 2023. Albina and her family were chosen as representants by a special televoting jury.

Statue of Vaçe Zela, Wikimedia Commons

Albania in the Eurovision Song Contest

As said, Albania took part in the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in 2004. Anjeza Shahini was immediately successful. She reached the final with “The image of you” and was placed 7th there. It was one of only two Albanian entries that managed to get into the top-10. The other one was “Suus” by Rona Nishliu in 2012: she was 5th. The emotional ballad got an extra touch after 13 students and the driver of their bus died in  a car accident inHimarë, in the south of Albania. It felt like Rona brought the sadness of her country on stage.

Bookmakers

Currently, Albania is 37th and last at the betting odds. Let’s hope for the country and for Albina and her family that this is not gonna happen.

The song

And of course, this is the song:

 

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