Salvador Sobral: he’s the singer that finally won Portugal the Eurovision Song Contest after a 54-year wait. And, as tradition, the reigning champ is returning to the Eurovision stage once more, performing at the 2018 contest in Lisbon.
But who exactly is Sobral? Why can’t Eurovision fans stop talking about him? And who will appear on stage with him at Lisbon? Here’s everything you need to know…
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Who is Salvador Sobral?
Salvador is a 28-year-old Portuguese singer who placed seventh in Idolos, the country’s version of Pop Idol. He released his debut album, Excuse Me, in 2016.
He took to the Kiev Eurovision stage in 2017 with the song Amar Pelos Dois (Love For Two in English), written by Sobral’s sister, Luisa.
The song did amazingly well: in the grand final, Portugal received at least five televote points from every participating country. Sobral finally won the contest with a staggering 758 points overall: 382 from the juries and 376 from the televoting. That’s the highest score in Eurovision history.
And as Amar Pelos Dois was sung entirely in Portuguese, it was also the first winning song performed in a country’s native language since Serbia’s “Molitva” in 2007.
After Eurovision, the song topped the charts in Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. It also peaked inside the top 10 in Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. (However, it only reached 97 in the UK charts).
Why was he so popular at Eurovision 2017?
Well, Salvador has a heart condition that meant he couldn’t leave Portugal in time for initial rehearsals. His sister, Luisa, stood in for him during technical rehearsals, while Salvador arrived in time for the first semi-final.
He’s also taken his own distinctive approach to the competition. During press conferences he frequently raised important international issues, such as the plight of refugees who are trying to make their way through Europe.
Oh, and during the first semi-final he and his sister Luisa took every opportunity to play practical jokes when the cameras were on them. Their humour has proven quite endearing and doubtlessly helped to send Salvador skyrocketing several places up the final table.
— Sarah Doran (@sarahisnothere) May 9, 2017
Did Salvador Sobral have a heart transplant?
Yes. In December last year the singer underwent a successful transplant in Lisbon. Although many feared Sobral would not recover in time, he will be returning to the Eurovision stage to perform Amar Pelos Dois alongside new material during the show’s interval.
O Salvador está com saudades de dar música à malta e saiu este Landslide dos Fleetwood Mac. Bom dia, pessoas!!Salvador is missing to give you some music and performed to you the Landslide of the Fleetwood Mac. Good morning, people!
Posted by Salvador Sobral on Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Who is Salvador Sobral performing with at Eurovision?
The Eurovision champ will appear on stage with Caetano Veloso, a big name in the Brazilian music scene.
The 75-year-old first became a hit in 1967 with his single Tropicália, which many credit as founding the Tropicalism art movement in Brazil.
Since then he’s won several Latin Grammy Awards and was distinguished with the title Person of the Year by the Latin Recording Academy in 2012.
Last year Veloso shared his admiration of Sobral on Facebook, a video that looks like has paid off extremely well.
Vote for #salvadorsobral #eurovision #voteforportugal ???❤️?? Salvador Sobral
Posted by Caetano Veloso on Saturday, May 13, 2017
The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final is on Saturday 8th May, 8pm on BBC1