Home Lifestyle Who is Jamala: Short Bio, Career and Interesting Facts

Who is Jamala: Short Bio, Career and Interesting Facts


Jamala [Susana Alimivna Jamaladinova]  is a Ukrainian singer and actress. She was born in August 27, 1983 in Osh, Kyrgyz SSR, Soviet Union. Jamala is the winner of the Song Contest Nova Hvylya [New Wave] in 2009 and the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016, according to Ukrainian Wikipedia

Jamala’s Biography

Yearly Life

Jamala [Susana] was born in a Crimean Tatar and Armenian family. Her parents were musicians – her father, Alim Dzhamaladinov, was a conductor, while Jamala’s mother worked as a music teacher. Soon after Susana [Jamala] was born, the family moved to Melitopol, and then in Malorechesnkoe village near Alushta city in the Crimea, Ukraine.


Via Jamala’s Instagram Page

As a child Jamala participated in numerous children’s song contests. She studied the piano class at children’s music school in Alushta, then she entered the Simferopol Music College, which she graduated in 2001. After the College Jamala moved to Kiev and was enrolled at the National Music Academy of Ukraine. On her final exam she sang the part of Violetta from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi and got  the highest score, so she received the National Music Academy’s diploma with honors.


Interestingly, before Jamala passed the exams to be enrolled at the National Music Academy in Kiev, her friend and a jazz musician Igor Brill suggested to her entering the Academy of Music in Moscow, but her father forbade her to join it.

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2001-2009: Beauty band and Nova Hvylya

During the study Susana Jamaladinova [Jamala] took part in various Ukrainian and international song contests – Golosa Buduschego [Voices of Future] in 2000 in Russia), Krymska Vesna [Crimean Spring] in 2001, Do#Dj Junior in 2001 and  Concorso Europeo Amici della musica in 2004 in Italy. From 2001 to 2007 she sang in Beauty Band, a female capella quintet.

In 2006 Beauty Band participated in DO # Dj Junior, and Susana Jamaladinova was noticed by Elena Kolyadenko, a choreographer,  who offered her to become a leading singer in her musical theater Pa. So Elena Kolyadenko was the first producer of Jamala.


After graduation the National Musiacal Academy in Kiev Jamala [Susana] had to decide between classics and jazz. She mailed her records to Zürich Opera House. At that time she got an offer to do an internship at La Scala in Milan. Jamala even had decided to select classic opera as her future career, but unexpectedly she received an invitation to participate in the 8th international contest Nova Hvylya and accepted it.

There she chose Jamala – the first part of her family name – as her stage name.

During the three days of the contest she was performing History Repeating, a song from the repertoire of the a British duo Propellerheads, an Ukrainian folk song and a solo song. In the end, Jamala and Indonesian contestant Sandy Sondoro gained 358 points, thus sharing the First prize. After the competition Jamala stopped to cooperate with Elena Kolyadenko, and Igor Tarnopolsky became her new producer.

2009-2012: Jamala’s Early Career

Jamala's "Or all Nothing" Cover

Jamala’s “Or all Nothing” Cover

In 2009 Jamala won ELLE Style Award thus becoming Singer of the Year and Person of the Year in the  nomination Ukrainian Influential Personality.

Jamala at Elle Style Award, Ukraine

Jamala at Elle Style Award, Ukraine

In November 2009 Jamala introduced the first music video for the song History Repeating directed by Alan Badoiev.

In 2009-2010 Jamala participated in Rozhdestvenskie Vstriechi [Christmas Meetings] directed by Alla Pugacheva. She starred in the opera by Maurice Ravel Spanish Hour and an opera performance by Basil Barhatova based on the James Bond series. An English actor Jude Law highly appreciated Jamala’s performance in Bondiana.

February 28, 2010 a Ukrainian TV channel Inter presented Anatomy of Voice – a documentary featuring Jamala. The idea of the film was to examine the processes occurring in the body of a person during singing and to explain them from the scientific point of view.

In summer 2010 Jamal visited Los Angeles, where she met an American producer and composer Walter Afanasyeff. He suggested to her moving to the USA, but Jamala refused the offer fearing it could limit her career and creative opportunities.


Photo – Crimea.Kommentarii

In autumn 2010 she performed Smile song in the national selection for the 56th Eurovision Song Contest. She won the first semi-final, but she ranked third in the Final. There were rumors the final voting was counterfeited,  but Jamala and Zlata Ognevich, who got the second highest score, both refused to take part in a repeat vote.

In 2012 Jamala participated in a vocal show Opera Stars which is an Ukrainian version of a British show Popstar to Operastar. The show was filmed and shown on  1+1 TV channel. Her duo with an opera singer student Vlad Pavlyk scored highest in the contest. The same year, 2012, Jamal received Best Fashion Award in the special category Inspiration.

In 2013 Jamala joined the campaign MTV EXIT against human trafficking. She played in a documentary Life for Sale, where she told the stories of three migrant workers from Ukraine.

In Fall 2014 The Guide, the film directed by Oles Sanin about the fate of Ukrainian kobzars, was premiered on October 10, 2014 at the 30th Warsaw Film Festival.

Jamala starred as an actress and singer of the Drama Theater, Olga Levitsky. She performed You’re My Thrill song in the film. Before the film came out Jamala presented a song Why?, which was devoted to historical events in Ukraine in early 1930s.

Jamala starring in the movie The Guide

Jamala starring in the movie The Guide

In 2012-2014 Jamala participated in jazz festival Usadba Jazz in St. Petersburg and Moscow. She was the headliner of the International Alfa Jazz Fest in Lviv and of International Opera, Operetta and Musical Festival O-Fest in Kiev.

In Autumn 2014 Andrey Khlyvnyuk invited Jamala to cooperation. Together with Dmitry Shurov they recorded the song Zlyva [Downpour]. The song was presented on the eve of anniversary of the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine in Kiev Mystetskyi Arsenal.


2015—2016: Participation in The Eurovision Song Contest

On 19 September 2014 National Television Company of Ukraine officially announced that Ukraine would sit out the 2015 Eurovision Contest because of financial difficulties.

On 23 May 2015 Ukrainian Broadcaster NTU asked to bring Ukraine back to the contest for 2016.

On May 14, Jamala has won the Contest with her song 1994.


Jamala has won the 2016 Eurovision song contest with a song, which evoked the deportation of Crimean Tatars by Josef Stalin and has been interpreted as a criticism of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. As she collected her trophy, she pleaded for “peace and love”.

Before the final contest Jamala said that her victory would show that Europeans are “ready to hear about the pain of other people”.

To help curb it together, I guess.

Jamala's singing 1944 at the Eurovision Song Contest

Jamala’s singing 1944 at the Eurovision Song Contest

Text via

Translated by

Tanya Pochtiennykh


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