Jamala sang her own original song in the Eurovision finale

By Jodi Guglielmi
Updated May 15, 2016 11:10 AM
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Credit: Michael Campanella/Getty

Ukranian singer Jamala was crowned the winner of the 61st annual Eurovision Song contest on Ssaturday.

Jamala, 32, received the highest score of 534 points for her emotional performance of her song “1944,” beating out competitors from 26 different countries.

So who is the Ukrainian singer? Here are five things to know about Jamala.

Her real name is Susana Jamaladinova.
Jamala (an adapted stage name) was born in Orsh in the former Soviet Union, which is now located in Kyrgystan. Her family had been forcibly resettled there under the rule of Stalin. When Ukraine gained independence in 1991, her family returned to Crimea.

She sang her own original song in the Eurovision finale.
Jamala took home the prize after singing a somber, yet powerful tune she composed herself. She sang “1994,” a song about the deportation of Crimean Tatars by the Soviet Union on orders of Joseph Stalin. Her performance was also referenced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2014 military push into Ukraine.

Following the competition, Jamala revealed that she wrote the song after hearing a story her great-grandmother told her about the deportation her family in Crimea.

She recorded her first album at the age of 9
After finding her love for music at a young age, Jamala recorded her first professional recording at the age of 9, singing 12 children and folk Crimean Tatar songs. She continued to pursue music as she grew older, graduating from the National Music Academy in Kiev, majoring in opera singing.

She auditioned for Eurovision once before.
In 2011, Jamala auditioned for the Ukraine national selection for the Euovision Song Contest with the song “Smile.” Though the song was considered a fan favorite, she came in third. When the winner was announced, the results of the competition were highly disputed among fans, causing a re-match among the three finalist. Still, Jamala did not make the final.

She prides herself in being a versatile musician.
Though Jamala majored as an opera singer at school, she regularly headlines international jazz festivals and sings folk and pop music as well. This year, she won a handful of Ukrainian National Music Award awards including, best album, best duo, best song and best artist. In 2009, she entered the New Wave International Contest of Young Pop Singers music contest and won.