Folk-rap band Kalush Orchestra are the firm favorites to win the Eurovision Song Contest next month.
Ukraine’s entry to this year’s competition have been granted special permission by the country’s government to go on tour across Europe, in preparation for the big event on May 14 in Turin, Italy.
Kalush Orchestra are a rap band taking their name from the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, playing music infused with the traditional folk sounds of that region. They will be entering the Contest in May with Stefania, a song inspired by the mother of frontman Oleh Psiuk, whose interest in rap dates from his childhood love of Eminem.
The six-man band have been together for only a year, and have formed out of Psiuk’s previous project, the rap trio Kalush.
The band were initially runners-up to represent their country, when national selection took place in January. However, the original winner Alina Pash had previously visited Russian-controlled Crimea in 2015, and Ukraine’s national broadcaster, the national selection committee and Pash collectively decided she should not take part. Kalush Orchestra will go instead to this year’s Contest.
The group were told just days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Psiuk told the Times, “The dates were very close so I had mixed feelings, but I am happy I can help my country with my music — it is the biggest way I can be useful right now.
“People cannot think a lot about music now as there are much more important things to worry about — how to survive, how to find food for your family.”
By way of example, the band’s dancer will not be going to Turin next month. He has joined the Kyiv territorial defense forces, deciding to forfeit his chance for Eurovision glory and instead stay home and fight.
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