The day the music died

Israel’s contestant cries on TV as Eurovision nixed over pandemic

Eden Alene says she’s crushed by decision to scrap singing competition, says it ‘hurts inside’

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Eurovision 2020 contestant Eden Alene (Kan screen grab)
Eurovision 2020 contestant Eden Alene (Kan screen grab)

Eurovision contestant Eden Alene cried Wednesday afternoon during a live interview, as it became clear that the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world.

Now it’s real, what he said means it’s canceled for sure,” said Alene to Kan interviewers as they showed Eurovision Broadcasting Authority executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand announcing the contest’s cancellation. “But is there still hope?”

At the start of the interview, Alene said she wasn’t sure if the contest was being postponed or was canceled.

I wanted to go and do it and to win and felt that we had… I saw the reactions that people so loved the song and its message and meaning and it’s so disappointing,” said Alene.

While Alene may get to perform her song next year, it’s a disappointing situation, she said.

“This is something minor compared to what’s happening,” she said. “It shows how terrible the situation is. I saw it happening, I’m not blind. The rehearsals kept getting canceled, and the events. I saw it coming.”

Yet when Ola Sand’s statement was shown, Alene was taken aback by the finality of his statement.

“My birthday was supposed to be at Eurovision,” she said, tearing up. “It just hurts inside.”

Alene, 19, the first Israeli of Ethiopian descent to be chosen to sing the Eurovision song for Israel. The song chosen for her was “Feker Libi,” sung in four languages, English, Hebrew, Amharic and Arabic.

“Feker Libi” (meaning “My Love” in Amharic) was co-written by Doron Medalie — who also wrote Israel’s winning 2018 entry, “Toy” — and Idan Raichel, a top-selling singer-songwriter whose Idan Raichel Project is famous for its fusion of traditional Hebrew texts, Arab and Ethiopian music.

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