Meeting the Georgian ESC-artists

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Tonight is the night for the big finale of 2013 year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The contest will start at nine pm and Malmoe has had many different parties, events, minor performances, interviews and talk-shows during the last two weeks leading up to this year’s competition. A few of them remain.

After World War II the Europeans were so tired of war and fed up with its consequences. In the 1950’s a certain Marcel Bezencou came up with the idea with an international song contest in order to build peaceful bridges between the nations instead of military struggles. The European Broadcasting Union, the EBU arranged it and has done so ever since. The first Eurovision Song Contest or Concours Eurovision de la Chanson was held with seven participating countries in Lugano, Switzerland on May 24th 1956. Back then all participants came from Western Europe, but in 1993 after the fall of the Soviet Union the East European OIRT began a co-operation with the EBU and the competition grew with countries from the eastern part of our continent.

In this year’s competition Georgia competes with a ballad duet composed by Swedish Thomas G:son. He has competed with his songs eight times in the ESC, of which three times for Sweden. Last year he won with his song “Euphoria” performed by Loreen. The Georgian TV called him and asked Thomas to write a song for the Georgian team. He went listening to them and wrote their number “Waterfall”. Georgia will compete at the end as number 25. I saw them perform on TV two nights ago in the second semi-finale and they were good. Both artists Sophie Gelovani and Nodi Tatishvili have great voices and the song is a nice ballad performed with intensity and class. Definitally a worthy act to reach high in the competition or even win.

In Malmoe about 150 different languages are spoken and the EBU had difficulties finding someone that spoke Georgian, but one day Irma Jämhammar from Georgia who lives in Lund was contacted and asked to become leader of the Georgian team. When Irma was a teen-ager an older sister had fallen in love with a Swede and moved here. When Irma visited she too fell in love with a Swede and moved here in her early 20’s. Now twenty years later it’s the first time that she finds her skills in Georgian useful. It’s Irma Jämhammar you see here above. I came in contact with her a few days ago and I also got a short meeting with the Georgian artists. Irma also taught me some Georgian phrases: “Hello. How are you?” “Gamardzjoba. Rogorhart?” The entire group consists of 17 people, artists, chief of delegation, chief of press, stylists and a Georgian TV-team. I met them all at their hotel yesterday. The two artists Sophie Gelovani and Nodi Tatishvili both come from the capital Tbilisi and began singing at the age of six. Sophie told me via her interpreter that music is her life and her inspiration. She lived in S:t Petersburg, Russia, for four years and she has participated in many international concerts, festivals and also has had solo concerts. Her co-artist Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie are good friends. They have known each other for some years and have performed together on several occassions. Tonight they will compete as number 25.

Georgia/Sakartvelo is 69, 878 square kilometres big and situated in the Caucasus area. The neigbouring-countries are Russia, Azerbadzjan, Armenia and Turkey. The Georgian capital is Tbilisi. Ethnic Georgians call themselves Kartvelbi, the name of the country Sakartvelo means “A place for Kartveli” and the language is called Kartuli. According to the old chronicles and local legends their ancestor Kartlos was great grandson of the Biblical Japhet. In Antiquity the region was called Iberia by Greeks and Romans. Eastern Georgians were Iberoi and the western Georgians were Kolchi. The ancient Greek hero Jason and his Argonauts who went looking for a golden fleece (oqros satsmisi) sometime 3300 years ago came to Kolchis east of the Black Sea, today’s western Georgia. The language Kartuli/Georgian does not belong to any of the larger language families Indo-European, Turkish or Semitic, and the Georgian ancestors are believed to have been a mix of original Autoktont inhabitants and immigrants from Anatolia. The Georgians were Christened during the 4th century A.D. and have been Christians ever since.

During the Middle Ages European scribes began naming the Iberians and Kolchis “Georgians” and the region “Georgia” because the people there venerated Saint George very much. In 2004 Georgia started re-using the old Five-Cross Flag containing also the S:t George Cross. That symbol was also used during the Middle Ages. In the 700’s they had a period of local superiority, but in the 1300’s the Asian war-lord Timur Lenk ravished their country. During the 1800’s and 1900’s they were under Russian rule, first under the Zars and then as a Soviet Republic. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 Georgia became independent in 1991. The regions Abchasia and South Ossetia try to break loose from Georgia though and sometimes it’s quite tense. During the Rose revolution in 2003 the former president Edvard Shevardnaze was forced to abdicate, and since the election in 2004 the republic is led by President Michel Saakashvili. He was re-elected in 2008. A short war between August 8th and 16th 2008 was fought against Russia. Since it’s better to create peaceful ways of building bridges between people, various forms of co-operation, listening in people’s needs, building of health care and infrastructure the ESC could be one way of showing the positive aspects of a country. We just mustn’t forget to continue building co-operations and platforms for companies, individuals, creating jobs, taking care of our world, ourselves and each other when the party and competition is over. We all ought to remember this when the ESC is over for this year tonight. The Georgian act is good. They sing well, it’s good music, have a nice appearance and I will enjoy. Then we should continue creating and building… For the sake of our world.

Anders Moberg, May 18th 2013



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