Ukrainian Band Wins Eurovision Song Contest

'Stefania' by Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra triumphs in the annual international competition
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 15, 2022 8:01 AM CDT

Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest, a clear show of popular support for the group's war-ravaged nation that went beyond music, per the AP. The band and its song “Stefania” beat 24 other performers early Sunday in the finals of the competition. The public vote from home, via text message or the Eurovision app, proved decisive, lifting them above British TikTok star Sam Ryder, who led after the national juries in 40 countries cast their votes. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the victory, Ukraine's third since its 2003 Eurovision debut. He said “we will do our best” to host next year's contest in the devastated port city of Mariupol, which is almost completely occupied by Russian forces.

“I am sure our victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off,” Zelensky said in a post on the Telegram messaging app. Kalush Orchestra's frontman, Oleh Psiuk, took advantage of the enormous global audience, last year numbering more than 180 million, to make an impassioned plea to free fighters still trapped beneath a sprawling steel plant in Mariupol. "Help Azovstal, right now," Psiuk implored following his victory performance. He later told a news conference that people can help by “spreading information (and) reaching out to governments to help.”

The 439 fan votes is the highest number of televote points ever received in a Eurovision contest, now in its 66th year. Psiuk thanked the Ukrainian diaspora “and everyone around the world who voted for Ukraine. ... The victory is very important to Ukraine. Especially this year.” “Stefania” was penned by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother, but since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion it has become an anthem to the motherland, with lyrics that pledge: “I’ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed."

(More Eurovision stories.)

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