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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Countdown to Eurovision 2017 - Ukraine's entry for 2008

Ani Lorak represented Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008 with her song, Shady Lady, coming in 2nd to Russia.

She was born Karolina Myroslavivna Kuiek in 1978 in Kitsman, a city located in Chernivtsi Oblast of western Ukraine.

Karolina had a rough childhood. She was raised by a single mother and then in foster care, and later lost a brother to the war in Afghanistan.

As early as age four she wanted to become a singer, and went on to perform at school concerts and music contests.

In 1995 she participated in a contest in Moscow where oddly enough another contestant had entered with the stage name. So she invented her stage name Ani Lorak, which is her first name, Karolina, spelled backwards.

She went on to record internationally and undertake many successful business ventures. In 2011 she was the fifth richest singer in Ukraine, with her team's revenues amounting to $2.35 million that year. Her typical fee is $25,000-$40,000 per concert.

Ani Lorak disappointed many when she came out in support of pro-Russian views regarding the Crimean conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

In 2014 she came under harsh criticism in Ukraine for having accepted awards in Russia while Ukraine was being invaded by Russia.

In August 2014 her concert in Odessa, Ukraine was cancelled after it was disrupted by pro-Ukraine protesters. Lorak then told reporters that she was a true Ukrainian patriot and loved her country dearly, advising her critics to “go and join [the] Anti-Terror Operation” which is what the war in Donbas is officially referred to.

Before 2014, Ani Lorak was one of the most famous and popular female singers in the country. She was also  a judge in Ukraine’s version of The Voice. But she fell off her pedestal because she continued to tour Russia and accept awards there, even after the occupation of Crimea and the war in Donbas.

She is not officially banned in Ukraine but, according to an article published by Euromaidan Press, she is "not welcome anymore." In 2015 a bill was put forward to strip Ani Lorak and other pro-Russia singers of the honorary title of “People’s Artist of Ukraine.” That didn't happen, however, due perhaps to the public support of her Ukrainian fans, and she continues to enjoy a successful career as a professional musician.

In 2009 Ani Lorak married her longtime Turkish fiancé and manager, with whom she had a daughter in 2011. They live on the outskirts of Kyiv and travel often to Turkey.

Here is Ani Lorak’s 2008 Eurovision Entry, Shady Lady.

To hear about all of Ukraine's top ten place finishes in Eurovision, check out the podcast of the April 29th, 2017 Vancouver edition of Nash Holos Ukrainian Roots Radio here.

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