At the international song contest Eurovision 2017 in Kiev, Ukraine, Belarus will be represented by the winner of the national qualifying round – NAVIBAND. The duet of Kseniya Zhuk and Artem Lukyanenko will perform the song Gistoryaya Maigo Zhytstsya (The Story of My Life) in the second semifinal of the contest at the International Exhibition Center on May 11. For the first time in the 14-year history of Belarus’ participation in the contest a Belarusian-language song will be performed on the European stage.
The popular Belarusian folk-rock band NAVIBAND (NAVI) appeared in Minsk in 2013. It includes vocalist-musicians Kseniya Zhuk and Artem Lukyanenko, who are the face of the band, as well as Alexander Tobolsky (electric guitar), Vladislav Cheshchevik (bass) and Vladimir Beger (drums).
In the period of more than three years the musicians produced the albums Lovi (Catch) and Sontsam Sagretyya (Warmed by the Sun) (2014), the memorable singles Geta Zemlya (This Land), My Prosypayemsya (We Wake Up)... By the way, today the band’s repertoire includes compositions in Belarusian for the most part.
As early as in 2015 the band was nominated for the Belarusian music award Heroes of the Year. In 2016 it was in the top 5 best performers, finishing fourth in the final of the national qualifying round for Eurovision with the song Geta Zemlya.
A year later NAVIBAND once again joined the fight for a chance to be part of the main musical show in Europe by presenting the composition Gistoryaya Maigo Zhytstsya. The band won the national final, the sympathy of the audience, and the highest score from the professional jury (18 points).
It is interesting that according to the results of the voting organized on the eve of the national elimination round, the independent international jury, which included representatives of TV companies from the countries participating in the Eurovision Song Contest, praised the performance of the Belarusian folk band with the highest score – 72.
Apart from that, right on the day of the finals NAVIBAND released a new album Illyuminatsiya (Illumination), which, the musicians said, was radically different from all the previous ones. It included eight original tracks in indie folk style, including Kolybelnaya (Lullaby), which had been recorded together with the famous Russian writer, playwright and musician Yevgeny Grishkovets.
Gistoryaya Maigo Zhytstsya became part of NAVIBAND’s latest, third album Illyuminatsiya and won the main prize of the Belarusian national selection round – the Glass Heart. The song boasts a special style and lyrical mood.
In February 2017, right after the official presentation of the new album in Minsk, NAVIBAND received the statuette of the prestigious national music award Lira as Gistoryaya Maigo Zhytstsya was recognized as the best song in Belarusian in 2016.
Talking about the history of creating the song, the author – Artem Lukyanenko – admitted that the melody and the refrain came to him in a dream, the rest of the part fell together easily. "Songs that can catch people’s hearts are probably born that way," the performer noted.
NAVIBAND musicians worked on orchestrating the song Gistoryaya Maigo Zhytstsya together with specialists of the Minsk studio ToneTwins. After the live instruments were added – pipe and violins – the final version of the song acquired a real folkloric sound.
Fans describe the current Belarusian nominees for Eurovision 2017 as envoys of the national culture. And, perhaps, it is no coincidence because a Belarusian-language song will be performed for the first time at the prestigious song contest in the year dedicated to the 500th anniversary of Belarusian book printing and the 800th anniversary of the Belarusian nation.
The design of promotional merchandise and Eurovision publications will use national motifs. NAVIBAND artists took part in a photo session with a rare copy of Francysk Skaryna’s Bible from the National Library of Belarus (the musicians were allowed to hold the rare book in their hands only for a few minutes) and in a photo session in Zaslavl’s streets, one of the oldest cultural centers of the country.
The logo of the Belarusian contestants for Eurovision 2017 has been worked out by the designer Maria Lis. The logo uses parts of the unique style of the band as well as symbols of the Belarusian national ornament – the sun and the earth. On the Internet, the official slogan of the band is #NaviBand from #BelarusLand, and the hashtag for Eurovision is #Heyheyhayayayayo.
The Belarusian artists have already presented the contest song in the finals of national selection rounds for Eurovision 2017 in various countries. NAVIBAND’s performance was memorable in Kiev, where they performed in Belarusian a fragment of the song 1944, which was originally sung by the Eurovision 2016 winner Jamala.
On the eve of Eurovision 2017 NAVIBAND went on a spring tour around Belarus (Grodno, Baranovichi, Gomel, Novopolotsk), which will end with a big unplugged concert in Minsk on April 22.
Shortly before the contest the musicians are expected to visit a number of European capitals – London, Amsterdam and Vilnius – with promo tours. They are also expected to take part in the shooting of traditional Eurovision promo videos in Kiev and in the home city of Minsk. The promo videos are expected to focus on sincere emotions of the song contest participants.