Who is Albania’s Eurovision 2019 entry Jonida Maliqi?

Everything you need to know about Albania's 2019 Eurovision performer, who began her singing career at 13.

LISBON, PORTUGAL - MAY 12:  A general view  at Altice Arena on May 12, 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Pedro Gomes/Getty Images)

In the grand scheme of things, Albania are relative newcomers to the Eurovision Song Contest, making their first appearance in 2004. They’ve never won – but in 2012 their entry, Rona Nishliu, did receive the unofficial fan-voted ‘Barbara Dex Award’, an honour given to the worst dressed performers…

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Nevertheless, Albania wasted no time in their preparation for Eurovision this time around, becoming the first country to announce both their artist and song for the contest. Having won Festivali i Këngës – Albania’s selection song contest for Eurovision – Jonida Maliqi will be performing Ktheju tokës (Return to the Land) at Eurovision this year.

Here is everything you need to know.

Who is Albania’s Eurovision entry Jonida Maliqi?

Jonida Maliqi is something of a Festivali i Këngës veteran. She first participated in her country’s contest in 1995, where she sang a duet at the age of 13. She has been involved ever since, placing second in 1999 and even hosting the contest in 2010. This year, her long awaited moment of glory finally came when she was picked from a pack of 13 Eurovision hopefuls.

Another interesting feature on Maliqi’s musical CV: she played Juliet in the Albanian musical version of Romeo and Juliet. Hopefully her theatrical skills will give her a big Eurovision boost.

What is Albania’s Eurovision song called?

With music and lyrics written by Eriona Rushiti, Albania’s entry for Eurovision this year is called Ktheju tokës. In English this is translated as ‘Return to the Land’, which is explained by the song’s central focus: emigration from Albania. The lyrics are expected to remain in Albanian for the competition itself.

What will Albania’s song look like on stage? Is there a video?

You can see a video of Maliqi’s performance at the Festivali i Këngës song contest. It’s a dramatic number – in typical Eurovision fashion – complete with mysteriously dark-clad backing dancers and thematic visuals. You can expect this to be further exaggerated for Eurovision.

How did Albania do at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest?

Eugent Bushpepa competed in Lisbon with the song Mall, finishing in a respectable 11th place in the final.

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