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SaRaha: “Kizunguzungu is an afro pop song in English and Swahili” (Swedish semifinalist – Exclusive Interview)

ESC+Plus has talked to SaRaha (Sara Larsson), semifinalist of this year’s Swedish national selection for Eurovision. SaRaHa will perform “Kizunguzungu” in the third Melodifestivalen semi-final set on February 20.

ESC+Plus: Hello! First of all, thank you so much for your time and congratulations on having been selected to take part in the Swedish national selection for Eurovision 2016!

E+: Can you tell us about you, your musical career and important achievements?

I was born in Sweden 1983, but moved with my family to Tanzania in east Africa when I was two and spent three years there. After that I have kept moving back and forth between Sweden and Tanzania (and Zimbabwe) my whole life, and have in a sense developed a hybrid identity, both personally and in my musical expression.

I started singing, playing the guitar and writing songs as a teenager and played in different bands in both Sweden and Zimbabwe, before I moved back to Tanzania in 2009 to start working in a music studio. There I developed my sound under the artist name SaRaha and I had my break through in 2011 when I released a Swahili song called Tanesco. After that I have worked with some of the most pronounced artists and producers in the country and have had singles and music videos played continually in the Tanzanian media. I have also had the opportunity to perform at some of the biggest events in the country, Miss Tanzania and Kilimanjaro Music Awards among others. In 2014 my music gained some interest in Sweden and my single Mbele Kiza entered the Swedish “Svensktoppen”. Since then the interest has grown and I am now given the opportunity to do Mello!

E+: What impelled you to take part in “Melodifestivalen 2016”?

I got the opportunity to work with the very talented producers and songwriters Anderz Wrethov and Arash Labaf, and we wrote the right song for the competition. I couldn’t see any reasons not to do it! It’s a great and fun opportunity!

E+: What it would mean for you to represent Sweden? 

To represent Sweden with an afro pop song would mean very much to me. We live in a world where more and more people have mixed identities and belong to different cultural spaces, and to represent Sweden as a product of that I think would mean something to a lot of people.

E+: Can you tell us about your song? What is the story behind the lyrics?

My song is an afro pop song in English and Swahili, with roots in both Tanzania and Sweden. The lyrics are about love, and the moment when you feel confident enough to reach out to the person you’re in love with.

E+: Why do you think your song has to be selected for Stockholm? What are you strengths to reach the top in the competition?

I have a song that I think will stick out and reach people with its energy, attitude and coolness! Hopefully people will feel the need to dance to it, and that will bring it a long way!

E+: If you win the contest, would you change the language of your song? 

No, I wouldn’t change it, the language is an important part of the song and the feeling in the song!

E+: Have you started to prepare your stage performance for “Melodifestivalen 2016”?

Yes! The choreography is pretty much done, and I’m working with four superb dancers! There will be a lot of rehearsing the coming weeks!

E+: Do you usually watch Eurovision? What are your favorites songs of the history of the competition?

The periods in my life that I’ve spent in Sweden I have watched it with great enthusiasm! It’s a lot of fun! It’s hard to pick something since there are endless amounts of songs through the years but I remember as a teenager how I fell head over heels in love with Brainstorm’s My Star from Latvia. It was 2000 I think! It’s a great pop song!

E+: Besides Eurovision, what are your plans for this year?

After the competition I will release new material that I’m working on right now. Hopefully there will be enough time for shows both in Sweden and Tanzania, and who knows, maybe even in other parts of Europe?

E+: Finally, can you send a message for our readers and Eurovision fans?

I want to send lots of LOVE and GLITTER to all the readers and ESC fans! I hope you will all follow my euro vision journey! And of course, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @saraha_music!

E+: Thanks for your time and good luck!

About Tony Rodríguez (Spain)