Kejsi and other interesting Albanian artists

Kejsi Tola

Kejsi Tola & Olta Boka

Amsterdam, July 1  2013

Perendesh e Fantazisë
shows a more adult outcome of Kejsi

Carry me in your dreams
hear the song in its original language

As an example of another catchy, upcoming Albanian vocalist, Keith mentioned Xhensila Myrtezai. Well, here she iz: Xhensila, September 2012 @ youtube

The winners @ the Festivali Këngës 2012 

Kejsi Tola

Tirana,  December 24,  2012

Kejsi lost...  Is her legend over now?
After the 3 day * Festival i Këngës, Albania’s sensation as a prelude to the Eurovision Song Contest of 2013, I feel kind of having a hangover without having drunk. Maybe it’s my jet lag,  traveling from the US only 4 days ago.

Many eyes were cast at Kejsi Tola, the young singer who represented the country @ Eurovision in Moscow in 2009. She was told to have become much better a singer than she was by that time. In the rehearsals this weekend she didn’t really seem comfortable about these high expectations. Somewhat shy before coming to stage and too much aware of the fuzz around her, she finally refound her focus once the music started playing.

in her own language she sounds more natural
Kejsi’s song this time was titled "S'jemi më atje" (We're not there anymore) and it's a less girly one than her contribution to Eurovision 2009. Let’s say this weekend's song is a more adult sounding piece of music. At least she managed to keep listeners’ attention for as long as 3 minutes. Still my question remains, if this would also be the case in places where they don’t know her name... 

In 2009 as I remember, she had a hard time. Not born a soprano but a nice alto singer, she put way too much effort in catching the high notes, which was a pity for such a catchy song as “Carry me with you in your dreams”. She’s grown however: in the final in 2009 she was out of tune and a little restless but this festival she did a nice job. Singing in her own language, more natural than she used to do in English, according to me.

Would Kejsi have the luck to be elected for a 2d time to carry the Albanian flag into the arena of  Eurovision? In december 2009 she didn't succeed to win festival i këngës and place for Eurovision 2010, in spite of her decent ballad with singer/pianist Voltan Prodani and a somehow chaotic keyboard back line that fortunately was quite soft in the mix. Title: ”Ndonjëhëre” (meaning: “sometimes”).

Kejsi’s chances to be an icon in her country on the long run, might be good. Her interpretation of Vace Zela’s “'Rrjedh ne Kenge e Ligjerime'' that I heard in the same year as her first Eurovision adverture sounds good for a girl aged 17. Her intentions are serious enough to get up higher. A more consequent choice for Albanian as the main language to be sung, might secure here place in the future within Albania itself, in case international success (a thing that’s so hard to acquire nowadays) won’t finally come here way.

She knew how to reach her audience…
The hour of truth had come now: time for voting. Whatever the result would be, Kejsi has certainly proved she knew how to reach her audience in the Palace of Congresses in Tirana. But still she lost (ending in 4th place). The winners this time are Adrian Lulgjari  and Bledar Sejko with a rocky song: “identitet”. I start to like this song after hearing it a couple of times. 

Not all of the rest of this weekend was really surprising but still I admit the festival was worth while. Some Albanian artists we’ve heard here, seem good enough to fit the challenge of  performing on that large Eurovision stage one day. But first it’s Lulgjari and Sejko’s turn in Malmö next may 18th. 

Keith L. Chester

* Festival i Kënges  is annually held in Tirana, Albania’s capital.