This year’s Eurovision Song Contest will for the first time feature a song performed in the Belarusian language. Belarus has been participating in the contest every year since 2004, but the Belarusian participants always presented songs in English.
But Naviband, a musical duo that will sing for Belarus at the Eurovision in Kyiv, has decided it was extremely important to promote Belarusian culture across the world.
“Plus, the slogan of the Eurovision Song Contest this year is ‘Celebrate Diversity’,” says Arciom Lukjanienka, one of the two vocalists of the band, who also plays guitar.
Lukjanienka adds that now the Belarusian language gets more popular in his home country, where the majority speaks Russian, finding its way to all spheres, including not only culture but also commerce.
Ksienija Žuk, the second vocalist, who plays keyboards, agrees, saying that “despite the fact that the majority still speaks Russian, I am glad that the youth tries to speak Belarusian more.”
“And this is not some kitsch, this is an honest will to identify yourself, to show who you are and where you are from,” Lukjanienka adds.
Žuk has been singing since early childhood and has no idea what else she could have been doing in her life. Lukjanienka has studied journalism, but soon realized he wants to be a professional musician.
They formed Naviband four years ago.
“It feels like a family,” they say, holding hands.
Naviband wrote their song “Historyja Majho Zyccia” (“Story of My Life”) not aiming for the Eurovision. However, after playing it to their friends and getting very good feedback, they decided to try getting into the European musical competition.
“This song is about emotions, it’s cheerful, it’s for people to dance, we want to share everything positive that we have with the audience,” Lukjanienka says.
Last year’s participant from Belarus, a solo singer Ivan has not received enough points in the semi-final to compete in the final. Dmitry Koldun won the best-ever result for Belarus in 2007 with his song “Work Your Magic,” getting to the sixth place in the final.
Lukjanienka and Žuk say they’ve come to win, smiling broadly. They have been to Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, like Odesa and Lviv, many times, and they say they love it here.
“People here are really open and sincere,” Žuk says, with Lukjanienka nodding and stepping in.
“We have been to many other European countries,” he says, “but there’s always a question whether you would want to live somewhere or not. I would definitely live in Kyiv. Our languages are similar, and I feel I can talk to people here.”