In quiet Crimean village, Jamala's family basks in Eurovision glory

Tue May 24, 2016 7:59am EDT
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By Olesya Astakhova

MALORECHENSKOYE, Crimea (Reuters) - In her home in a small village on Crimea's rocky coastline, the mother of Eurovision song contest winner Jamala is surrounded by magazine cuttings about her daughter and bouquets of flowers from well-wishers.

Galina Tumasova is still basking in the glory of Jamala's surprise victory for Ukraine 10 days ago, but she recalls her initial concerns about her daughter choosing to sing "1944" - a song she composed about the Soviet deportation of her Crimean Tatar ancestors.

"The neighbors didn't approve. They were all discussing the name of the song," Tumasova told Reuters at her modest two-storey home, which is scattered with CDs by her daughter, whose real name is Susana Jamaladinova.

"I said to her: 'Susana, are you sure people will understand what you're trying to say with that song?'"

"1944" recalled the decision by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to deport hundreds of thousands of Crimean Tatars from their homeland in that year. It had added meaning because of the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia, a move that many of the region's ethnic Tatar minority opposed, partly because of a historical mistrust of Moscow borne out of the wartime deportations.

Tumasova's faith in her daughter is apparent: "When she was a baby, even the sound of her crying was musical."

She said all her doubts about the song evaporated once she saw Jamala perform it in the initial rounds of the contest.

"The audience cried," she said in an interview at the house in the village of Malorechenskoye where she lives with her husband Alim, built in the local style centered around an open courtyard.   Continued...

Alim Jamaladinov and Galina Tumasova, the parents of Ukraine's Eurovision song contest winner Jamala, are seen during an interview at their house in the village of Malorechenskoye outside Alushta, Crimea, May 19, 2016.  REUTERS/Olesya Astakhova