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Ukraine band is representing Mariupol in the Eurovision song contest

On Saturday, May 14, 2022, the Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine will perform in the Palaolimpico Arena in Turin, Italy, for the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final.
On Saturday, May 14, 2022, the Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine will perform in the Palaolimpico Arena in Turin, Italy, for the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final. Image Credit: Luca Bruno/ Ap

After playing in the Eurovision Song Contest final on Saturday night, the Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra made an impassioned plea to rescue people still trapped in a besieged steel mill in a crucial Ukrainian port city.

"I implore you all to assist Ukraine, Mariupol. "Help Azovstal right now," shouted the band's frontman, Oleh Psiuk, to a live audience of 7,500 people, many of whom offered standing ovations, and a global broadcast audience of millions.

The appeal to Russians to release the last Ukrainian fighters trapped beneath the vast Azovstal factory served as a solemn reminder that the hugely popular and at times flashy Eurovision song contest was taking place against the backdrop of a conflict on Europe's eastern edge.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy showed that he was watching from Kyiv and cheering on the Ukrainian band.

According to a presidential statement, Zelenskyy remarked, "Indeed, this is not a war, but every win is vitally crucial for us today." "Let's cheer for our team." Ukraine, glory to you!"

Kalush Orchestra was one of 25 bands competing in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 final in front of a live audience in Turin, Italy's industrial northern capital, while millions more watched on television or online across the world.

The Ukrainian band has a 60 percent chance of winning, according to bookies. The group combines traditional Ukrainian rhythms, costumes, and dancing techniques with contemporary hip hop.

Despite Ukraine's position as the oddsmakers' and sentimental favorite, fans from Spain, the United Kingdom, and other European countries flocking to the PalaOlimpico were rooting for their own country to win.

Stefania was performed by Kalush Orchestra, who will represent Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 in Turin, Italy.

Iryna Lasiy, a Ukrainian music aficionado, said she felt worldwide solidarity for her nation during the war, and not just for the music.

After its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Russia was banned from the competition, which organizers said was done to keep politics out of the competition that encourages variety and friendship among nations.

The song "Stefania" was created as a homage to the frontman's mother before the war, but it has now evolved into an anthem for Ukraine as the lyrics have taken on new significance. "Even if all roads are destroyed, I'll always find my way home," Kalush Orchestra frontman Oleh Psiuk wrote.

The all-male band, which consists of six members, was granted special permission to leave the country in order to promote Ukraine and Ukrainian culture at the music competition. One of the original members stayed to fight, and the rest intend to return once the competition is finished.

Kalush Orchestra's participation in the competition is considered as giving Ukraine another platform to gather worldwide support in the damaged northeastern city of Kharkiv.

"The entire country is rising, and the entire globe is behind us." Julia Vashenko, a 29-year-old teacher, stated, "This is absolutely wonderful."

"I believe that we need to talk about the war everywhere there is Ukraine now," Alexandra Konovalova, a 23-year-old make-up artist in Kharkiv, said. "Any tournaments are vital now because they allow more people to learn about current events."

Anastasia Khardikova, a 24-year-old Ukrainian living in Sweden, said she plans to vote for Kalush Orchestra and is convincing her friends in other countries to do the same.

The winner is determined in equal parts by panels of music experts in each competing country and public votes, giving an opportunity for a surprise. Sam Ryder of the United Kingdom and Cornelia Jakobs of Sweden are both given a 10% chance of winning, while Mahmood & Blanco of Italy are given a 6% chance.

The winner will receive a glass microphone trophy as well as a possible career boost.

Italy hosted the event after local rock band Maneskin won in Rotterdam last year. The victory catapulted the Rome-based band to international acclaim, with the opening for the Rolling Stones and appearing on Saturday Night Live and on countless magazine covers in their gender-neutral attire.

This week, twenty bands were picked in two semifinals to compete alongside the Big Five of Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain, who have permanent seats because of their financial support of the competition.

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