Interview'Antisemitism - I've had it always, moving around the world'

Luxembourg banking on polyglot singer with Israeli roots for its Eurovision return

Tali Golergant is the first singer to represent the tiny nation since 1993. But with family ties to the Jewish state – including a brother who fought in Gaza – online hate is ablaze

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel

Tali Golergant winning the Luxembourg Song Contest on January 27, 2024. (Dani Reuter/RTL Luxembourg)
Tali Golergant winning the Luxembourg Song Contest on January 27, 2024. (Dani Reuter/RTL Luxembourg)

When Tali Golergant takes the stage at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, next month to represent Luxembourg, the 23-year-old will sing her selection “Fighter” in English and French – neither of which she grew up speaking at home.

“I grew up with Hebrew and Spanish. My dad is from Peru and my mom is from Israel, and they promised each other that they wanted both languages in the house always,” she told The Times of Israel in a Zoom interview last week.

Born in Israel, Golergant moved as a baby to Chile and then Argentina before settling at age 10 in Luxembourg, where she picked up English, French and German. She later moved to New York to study musical theater at Marymount Manhattan College and pursue a music career.

Alerted to the fact that Luxembourg was finally returning to the Eurovision for the first time since 1993, Golergant flew back to try out for the Luxembourg Song Contest, where she beat out seven other finalists to win the chance to represent the tiny nation. And even with a 31-year break, Golergant says, Luxembourg is pumped for its big return.

“There was so much hype about Luxembourg coming back to the Eurovision, it’s in every headline in every newspaper,” she said.

“I think people are really, really excited for Luxembourg, and I think it’s going to be such a huge step [for] the music industry here… and it’s such an honor to start that and be back after so many years – I still pinch myself every morning that it’s happening.”

The 2024 Eurovision, slated for May 7-11 in Malmo, will be held with Israel competing, despite a raucous campaign to oust it due to the ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza, sparked by the terror group’s October 7 massacre. The European Broadcasting Union rebuffed that effort but sparred with Israel over its choice of song for the contest. It rejected one on charges of being too political, then accepted “Hurricane,” which will be performed by Eden Golan in the second semifinal.

Golergant isn’t shy about her Israeli and Jewish background, although reporters were requested not to ask political questions of the singer as she prepares for the Eurovision. In interviews with Hebrew media in January, she noted that her brother was serving in the IDF and at the time fighting in Gaza, and that she thought of him as she was singing.

She said she visits the country “every year – I have half my family in Peru and half my family in Israel.”

The singer said she was had been asked to audition last year for “Hakochav Haba,” the reality singing competition that selects Israel’s Eurovision entrant, “but the timing didn’t work out, and obviously I live here [in Luxembourg], my family is here – it just made more sense.”

With the contest just a few weeks away, Golergant is throwing all her energy into preparing for the show, including releasing an updated version of “Fighter” which includes a stripped-back piano section as well as a more fast-paced hook to give it “a bit more modern, catchy club energy.”

Tali Golergant (Maasen/RTL Luxembourg)

And while the Eurovision is her primary focus, she is still looking ahead and planning music she is hoping to release post-contest — to capitalize “on the momentum” that comes from an international spotlight – which will even include some Hebrew touches.

“We’re currently writing a song that’s in a lot of my languages, and so I think that’s a niche that’s going to be really cool,” said Golergant. “There’s so many artists in the world, like – what makes you special? And I think the fact that I’m well traveled and that I have all these languages, I think is something cool and something that people might find different,” she said. The upcoming song has “all the languages that I speak, and it talks about this idea of identity and home and all that.”

While “Fighter” was written by a songwriting team long before October 7, some have taken to social media to accuse Golergant of using it to send a political message. Boycott calls against multiple contestants taking part in the competition reached such a fever pitch that the Eurovision organizers released a statement on Tuesday decrying “online abuse” and “targeted social media campaigns” linked to Israel’s participation in the contest.

The support Golergant has received from many Eurovision fans in Israel has seemed to anger some internet trolls even further, but the singer says the hate does not faze her.

“I am super happy to hear that Israel is on my side,” she said. “It’s really cool to see the support, it’s so heartwarming and incredible.”

On the other hand, she said, “I’ve also gotten a lot of hate, which I think is so unfortunate because this is a contest about music and togetherness.”

“Antisemitism – like I’ve had it always, moving around the world,” said Golergant. “As an artist, you have to know that no matter what you’re always gonna get hate, whether it is your body, your voice, your look, your nationality, what you say in an interview — you’re always going to get hate.”

Her approach, she said, is “to stay true to yourself and spread love and kindness and just stay grounded.”

Most Popular
read more: