In First, Ethiopian Israeli Singer to Represent Israel in Eurovision

19-year-old TV contest winner Eden Alene says competition has 'turned me from a girl with a dream into a seasoned singer'

Itay Stern
Itay Stern
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Eden Alene performs on 'The Next Star'
Eden Alene performs on 'The Next Star'Credit: Ortal Dahan
Itay Stern
Itay Stern

Eden Alene, a 19-year-old from Kiryat Gat, will represent Israel in the Eurovision 2020 contest, set for May 16 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

On Tuesday Alene won "The Next Star" contest with her renditions of Beyonce's "Halo" and Rhianna's "Where Have You Been."

"The months I spent competing on 'The Next Star' have turned me from a girl with a dream into a seasoned singer," she said, when her win was announced. "I want to thank everyone who voted for me and I promise to do my best to represent Israel with honor at the Eurovision."

Ella Lee Lahav, 16 years old from Shoham, came in second singing Katy Perry’s “Roar”. Orr Amrami Brockman, 17 from Tel Aviv, placed third, and Gaya Shaki, 17 from Moshav Hadid, placed fourth.

Alene will be the first Ethiopian Israeli to represent Israel in the Eurovision song contest. She gained recognition by competing and winning "X Factor," broadcast on Reshet. Since then she has released a number of singles for radio, though they have not been widely exposed.

Alene began voice training while in high school. She has told the press that she often suffered from racism.

“It is no small thing that Israel will be represented to the world for the first time by a daughter of the Ethiopian community,” said "Next Star" host Rotem Sela on a panel mediated by Nadav Borstein, which was broadcast after the competition final. Speaking by her side, Alene said she has been offered the option to sing in Amharic at the Eurovision and is considering it.

The Kan public broadcaster will be airing the Eurovision promo, called “The Next Song for Eurovision,” on March 3, at which the song representing Israel will be chosen. Following a public call for submissions, the selection committee will choose four songs to be featured in the show.

"The Next Star for Eurovision" began airing five years ago, and since then, Israel has reached the Eurovision final each year. In 2015 Israel was represented by Nadav Guedj singing “Golden Boy.” He came in ninth place. In 2016 Israel was represented by Hovi Star who made it to the final and came in 14th. The following year Israel was represented by Imri Ziv, 23rd place. In 2018 Netta Barzilai won the competition, held in Lisbon, with the song “Toy.” Her victory brought the 2019 competition to Tel Aviv. Kobi Marimi, with the song “Home,” came in 23rd.

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