After their first rounds of rehearsals here at La Seine Musicale in Paris, the JuniorEurovision.tv team took a moment to get to know Kazakhstan's Alinur Khamzin & Beknur Zhanibekuly, Armenia's Maléna, and Serbia's Jovana & Dunja.
Alinur Khamzin & Beknur Zhanibekuly’s song blends Kazakh and French, singing and rapping, and, of course, the talents of two great young performers.
Ertegı älemı (Fairy World) welcomes all of us to a magical land where dreams come true. Alinur starts the song by describing the wonders of this fantastic place, and invites Beknur to join him, who then returns the favor and invites all of us around the world to follow along their path to joy and peace.
Alinur and Beknur first met at the Kazakh National Final, where a tie score led to a novel idea: combining the singers’ unique abilities into one song. The guys jumped headfirst into the collaboration, and have since become great friends. Alinur loves how open-minded and funny Beknur is, and how he seems unstoppable! Beknur, in turn, loves working with the person who he’s come to see as a true friend, and almost like a brother.
Alinur is an experienced singer, even though he’s just 11. One of his favorite musical memories before coming to Junior Eurovision was his performance at the Baqytty Bala ('Happy Child’) Festival, where he met and worked with Kazakh musical idol Dimash Kudaibergen. They even follow each other on Instagram.
Many people have had questions about Beknur and his wheelchair, and he doesn’t mind talking about it! He was born with a condition called phocomelia, which causes short limbs. He uses a unique prosthetic made especially for him out of Lego, and often uses his feet like other people would use their hands. In speaking with Beknur, it’s obvious that his phocomelia doesn’t slow him down one bit, and he’s living his best life.
Maléna’s journey to Junior Eurovision has been a long one, having performed at Armenia’s National Final a few years ago, and nearly joining the roster last year, but she’s over the moon to be here in Paris with us now.
'It’s so awesome, and I’m so happy to have this second chance to represent my country. I’ve been waiting for this for seven years…it’s been my dream!'
She’s credits a teacher casting her in a school musical at the age of seven as her genesis into the world of music, and she hasn’t stopped since. Today, she finds herself inspired by pop and R&B music from around the world, but especially points out Jaden Smith and Rosalía as two of her favourites right now, both for their musical creations as well as their visual style.
Maléna finds her inspiration and energy in music, both in the works of other people and, increasingly, her own creations. She’s credited as one of this year’s lyricists on Qami Qami, having written the English-language portion, and she finds it wonderfully surreal to see something that she’s created go from simply an idea to being performed on such a massive stage.
I’d never think that I’d be writing lyrics that one day would be shared with such a big audience. It’s such a huge honor. The song is about finding yourself and finding a way to keep going. Don’t you ever think of falling down again…always be true to who you are.'
Jovana and Dunja would be thrilled to be in Paris for any reason, but to be here performing with a best friend by their side is just icing on the cake. Their song, Oči Deteta (Children’s Eyes) reminds us of how to look at the world through an hopeful, optimistic point of view:
'The message of our song is children see everything honestly, with pure hearts, and how children should always be happy!'
The pair met each other about three years ago, having worked together in a local children’s choir. Songwriter Ana Frlin knew Jovana and Dunja’s voices blended together just as well as their personalities did, so she approached the two about working together on Oči Deteta (Children’s Eyes). The rest, as they say, is history!
Dunja, age 11, says that she loves Jovana’s smile, which she knows is always there, even behind a mask. In return, Jovana, age 10, appreciates Dunja’s honesty, and she knows that she can always rely on her.
The girls call the city of Novi Sad (the official European Capital of Culture for 2021) home, and would tell visitors to their area to check out some of their favorite places, like the Petrovaradin Fortress, the historical city center, the Štrand beach along the Danube River, and Dunavski Park.