Susana Jamaladynova (born 27 August 1983), better known by her stage name Jamala (Ukrainian: Джамала), is a Ukrainian singer. A spinto soprano, she performs music of her own composition on the junction of jazz, soul, world music and rhythm&blues with elements of classical and gospel.
The turning point in Jamala's career path came with her performance at the "New Wave – 2009" International Contest of Young Pop Singers in Jūrmala. The singer was awarded with the grand prize, impressing the jury with her outstanding vocal talent and confident singing manner in a variety of genres. She will represent Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 with the song "1944".
Susanna Jamaladynova was born in Osh, Kirghiz SSR, to a Crimean Tatar father and an Armenian mother. Jamala and her father are Muslim, while her mother is Christian. Explaining how come she was born in nowadays Kyrgyzstan, Jamala stated it's because some of her ancestors had been forcefully resettled there under Stalin. During this deportation her great-grandmother's daughter died on board of a freight truck and was tossed from the wagon "like garbage" (she claims). Upon the gaining of independence by Ukraine, her family returned to Crimea.
Jamala has been fond of music since her early childhood. She made her first professional recording at the age of 9, singing 12 children and folk Crimean Tatar songs. Graduating from the Music school (piano class) in her hometown Alushta, the singer entered the Simferopol Music College named after Tchaikovsky followed by the graduation from the National Music Academy named after Tchaikovsky (Kiev) as well, majoring in opera singing. Being at the top of the class, Jamala planned to devote herself to the classical music, envisioning her career as a soloist at the famous Milan La Scala opera. Nevertheless, her true passion for jazz and experiments with soul and oriental music has changed her plans defining the main streams of the future career. During her study in Kyiv, she participate actively in events of the Kyiv's cultural organization of the Crimean Tatars and sang together with her sister Venera in concerts on occasion of the Crimean holidays: Hıdırlez and Derviza.
Jamala made her first steps on the big stage at the age of fifteen. During the next few years she took part at the dozens of vocal contests of Ukraine, Russia and Europe, where she received some prestigious awards, not mentioning the 1 Concorso Europeo Amici della musica International contest in Italy. Since 2001 she was a solo in the vocal quintet "Beauty Band". The terrific performance at the Dо#Dj junior 2006 Jazz festival of young artists brought Jamala a special award, while attracting the attention of the famous choreographer Elena Kolyadenko, who in her turn invited Jamala to perform the leading part in the "Pas" of Olena Kolyadenko multi genre musical and ballet Freedom. This part in the musical became an essential step in Jamala's performing career.
The turning point in Jamala's career path came with her performance at the "New Wave – 2009" International contest of young pop singers in summer 2009. The contest's chief director made statements regarding Jamala's "not fitting the format", stating it did not stop her from reaching the finals and more than that receiving a grand prize of the contest.
Following the triumph in Jūrmala, Jamala instantly jumped into the top artists’ category, performing at the various spots from Moscow to Berlin. Two large Jamala's concerts The Revue Show are taking place in Kiev, where she is to reveal to public the whole range of the singer's vocal potential and the diversity of the music material. During the few months Jamala is going to take part almost in all the main TV shows of Ukraine, from the "TV Triumph2009" awards ceremony and One Night Only (tribute to Michael Jackson of the Ukrainian top artists) to "Christmas Celebration with Alla Pugacheva". Cosmopolitan entitles her a "Breakthrough of the Year", she wins the "Singer of the Year" Elle Style Award and the "Ukrainians’ Idol" nomination at the "Person of the Year 2009". Being busy with the intense tour schedule, Jamala finds time to devote to classical music. In summer 2009 she performed the leading part in "The Spanish Hour" opera by Maurice Ravel, and in February 2010 she took part in Vasiliy Barchatov's opera production on Bondiana motif, for which she was noted by Jude Law, the famous British actor.
Early in 2011, she took part in the Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 with the song "Smile". The song was a crowd favorite and Jamala herself managed to land a spot in the finals of the competition. However, due to a controversy of miscounting votes, another finals was set for March 3. Although, Jamala would still advance into the finals she decided to withdraw from the competition on March 1 claiming that the votes would again be rigged.
Following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea Jamala claims that her relatives are abused and she is portrayed as an "American stooge" or "a fascist" for emerging to side against Russia. She has not visited her family in Crimea since the summer of 2014.
Jamala will represent represent Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 with the song "1944". This song is about the deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 and particularly about her great-grandmother, who lost her daughter while being deported to Central Asia.
Crimean Tatar leaders have pledged to enable people in Crimea to vote in the Ukrainian Eurovision Song Contest 2016 qualifications; according to Crimean Tatar leader Refat Chubarov to show that: “If Crimeans are not able to vote in such Ukrainian competitions, we are silently agreeing with those who say Crimea is not part of Ukraine”. Ruslana, one of the jury members and former winner of the Eurovision, said "If they don’t vote for her (the Ukrainian public) would be idiots’".
Discography: For Every Heart (2011)
Live At Arena Concert Plaza (concert DVD, 2012)
All or Nothing (2013)
Thank You (2014)