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From Albania to fairyland: Viola Gjyzeli's got soul

17 November 2023 at 08:00 CET
🇦🇱 Albania - Viola Gjyzeli - First Rehearsal - Junior Eurovision 2023 Corinne Cumming / EBU
Viola Gjyzeli might only be 13, but there’s an old soul in her voice. When she’s not playing basketball or bonding with animals, she’s winning trophies. She’ll be hoping her magical ballad ‘Bota Ime’ results in another win when she waves the flag for Albania on the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2023 stage in Nice.

Viola’s introduction to music started with an old Albanian lullaby, and by 7 years old she’d won a national children’s song contest. The music didn’t stop there. Several festival wins later, Viola used her powerful voice to wow the jury of Albania’s national final Junior Fest. Against 15 other artists, she earned her place at Junior Eurovision 2023.

The lyrics in Bota Ime were created by a star of the Eurovision world, Eriona Rushiti, and are all about being free in a fairy world. The words in Albania’s Eurovision Song Contest 2023 entry Duje came from Eriona’s mind too, as did Eurovision 2019 entry Ktheju Tokës. Both songs made it to the Grand Final. 

Viola Gjyzeli will represent Albania at Junior Eurovision 2023 RTSH

The music was composed by the popular songwriter Enis Mullaj, who creates music for top pop stars in Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Montenegro. Pretty impressively for someone so young, he’s also written two symphonies. That explains why Bota Ime has got such a soaring melody.

Music isn’t the only love in Viola’s life — she’s got a lot of room in her heart for animals. Between looking after chickens, ducks, 6 dogs, and a cow called Dotty, it’s impressive she finds any time to sing. She says that if there’s a rare rainy day in her city of Durrës, Albania, you can find her snuggled up in front of a movie with her dogs. If the dogs are choosing the film, we reckon it’s probably Paw Patrol.

If Viola could gain the superpowers of any pop heroes, she’d be Rolling In The Deep with Adele and mastering jazz like the legendary Amy Winehouse. With heroes like these, it’s easy to see where Viola gets the inspiration for her soulful style of music. Her dream playlist would feature Etta James’s At Last, Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You, and Céline Dion’s My Heart Will Go On — and she gets douze points for putting a previous Eurovision Song Contest superstar in that mixIf the Junior Eurovision crew can find time for a karaoke party, we think Viola will be singing Frank Sinatra’s My Way at the top of her voice. And we want a front row seat.

We asked Viola who her favourite superhero is, and she said: “Dad, absolutely! We have a super special bond together and there’s no superhero like my dad!”

You can learn more about Viola Gjyzeli right here.

Junior Eurovision 2023 took place in Nice, France on Sunday 26 November and was won by Zoé Clauzure from France! You can rewatch it live via the official Junior Eurovision YouTube channel (if available in your country).

All 16 songs are available to watch on our YouTube channel and listen to the official album on all streaming platforms, and of course, you're invited to vote for your favourites too! How do I vote in Junior Eurovision? Here's how...

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