Jamala

Jamala was born in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, where her ancestors were sent to from Crimea in one of Joseph Stalin’s bloody ethnic deportations. Her father, an ethnic Crimean Tatar, was a choir master. Her mother, an Armenian whose roots trace back to the now-disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, was a pianist.

Jamala’s musical education thus started from birth. After her family were allowed to return to their Crimean homeland in 1989, Jamala entered a music school at age six. She made her first professional recording, as part of a children’s folk choir, at age 9. She went on to finish the Simferopol Music College and then trained at the Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine as an opera singer. Her musical interests, however, ranged from soul and jazz to musicals and oriental music. After successfully competing in the high-profile Новая волна (New Wave) music contest, she pursued a career in pop music, although she has continued to sing opera as well.

After more contests and concerts, in 2011 she released a debut album called For Every Heart. The album was sung mostly in English, which she had studied as part of her musical training, but also included tracks in Russian (her birth language), Ukrainian (which she studied after returning to Crimea), and Crimean Tatar (which she speaks, but not fluently). One song from that album, “Smile,” became an instant hit and was selected to represent Ukraine in the Eurovision song contest that same year.

Jamala released two more albums, with several more hits in her four languages. In 2016, she was selected again to represent Ukraine in Eurovision with her song “1944,” about the tragic experience of her ancestors’ deportation by Stalin. She won the contest, in what some critics say was a politicized contest, as a protest against Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea. Jamala herself, however, has discouraged political interpretations of her song, emphasizing instead its historical and personal meanings.

Find Jamala on Amazon

A Ukrainian track included in her first album was “Заплуталась” (“Confused”)

Lyrics for “Заплуталась”

Я заплуталась я заплуталась
Загубилась вночі, навіть серце мовчить
Заплуталась

Серед мороку простягну руку
Відшукати хочу я уламки надій
Щоб нікого не ранили

Приспів:

І я кохала
Ніжно так тебе
І я кохала
Ніжно так тебе

Тебе, тебе, тебе, тебе, тебе
Тебе, тебе, тебе

Ти, як тінь на склі
Краплі завмерли
Сподівалася я все незмінно, як дощ
Але хтось просто вимкнув і все

Приспів:

І я кохала
Ніжно так тебе
І я кохала
Ніжно так тебе

Тебе, тебе, тебе, тебе, тебе
Тебе, тебе, тебе

Тебе,тебе, тебе, тебе, тебе
Тебе

Я заплуталась

Her Eurovision-winning song, “1944” was sung in both English and Crimean Tatar.

Lyrics for “1944”

When strangers are coming…
They come to your house,
They kill you all
and say,
We’re not guilty
not guilty.

Where is your mind?
Humanity cries.
You think you are gods.
But everyone dies.

Don’t swallow my soul.
Our souls

Yaşlığıma toyalmadım
Men bu yerde yaşalmadım
Yaşlığıma toyalmadım
Men bu yerde yaşalmadım

We could build a future
Where people are free
to live and love.
The happiest time.

Where is your heart?
Humanity rise.
You think you are gods
But everyone dies.

Don’t swallow my soul.
Our souls

Yaşlığıma toyalmadım
Men bu yerde yaşalmadım
Yaşlığıma toyalmadım
Men bu yerde yaşalmadım
Vatanıma toyalmadım

Find Jamala on Amazon

SRAS specializes in study, research, and travel abroad to Russia and Eurasia. SRAS also maintains this site and provides free info for students studying Russia and Eurasia. Explore our resources to find out more!