Past Eurovision contestants give advice to this year's performers, speculate on who will win

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Eurovision Song Contest 2009 logo.png

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It happens once a year. Nearly all of Europe's eyes are on 25 musical acts on finale night. Whether you love it or you hate it, it has your attention. Hundreds of millions are watching them. Whether viewers are waiting for the performance of a lifetime or a hilarious slip-up, for those three minutes their attention is owned by each respective singer.

That's the feeling that the entrants in Moscow will know on Saturday, and it's also the same feeling the eight singers who were interviewed by Wikinews have experienced. Last week, eight singers from eight different countries took time out of their various schedules to discuss their favorite moments from competing, their own personal anecdotes, advice they give to the performers this year in Moscow, who they think will win, and most importantly to them, what they're doing now and what they're offering to their audience.

This is the sixth and final interview set the English Wikinews will publish in the run-up to the semi-final and final rounds of the Eurovision Song Contest. Mike Halterman conducted all interviews, and will conduct additional interviews after the Contest. The final round airs May 16 at 9 p.m. CET; check with your national broadcaster's website for possible delays. Where available, the Contest's final round will also be broadcast on national radio.


Jessica Garlick Flag of the United Kingdom.svg

Jessica Garlick.jpg
Jessica Garlick, originally from Kidwelly in Wales, became famous in 2001 for her participation in the singing competition Pop Idol, where she finished in ninth place. Four months later, she won A Song for Europe, the British national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, and went on to represent the United Kingdom two months later at the Eurovision 2002 final in Tallinn, with the song "Come Back." She placed third, which turned out to be the best result for the United Kingdom for the decade. Now 27, married and a mother, Jessica Garlick is returning to music with a new set of priorities.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Jessica Garlick: Right now I'm busy promoting my new single "Hard Not to Fall" which is due to be released this month...it's available to download from iTunes from 9th May, with the official release being 25th May. I'm also currently co-writing my album, which will be released later on this year. It really does feel great to be back in the music industry.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Jessica Garlick: Some of my best memories from doing Eurovision would be visiting Estonia, I don't think it's a place I'd ever have visited if it wasn't for performing there, and it really is beautiful. While I was there during the week I had the opportunity to fly out into the Baltic Sea via helicopter and spend the afternoon on board HMS Chatham too. I was allowed to drive the frigate, and got to perform to the troops on board, who were so appreciative.

I have so many more, and met such amazing people during the whole promotion and run-up period as well as the Eurovision week itself. My only regret is not taking as many photos as I would have liked to. So my advice to others doing Eurovision would be [to] definitely take lots of pictures, and really enjoy your performance and everything that representing your country brings with it.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Jessica Garlick: I have been fortunate enough to have been able to perform alongside some of this year's Eurovision entries, and was totally impressed! I love the Iceland entry this year...the song "Is it True?" is a really beautiful ballad, and Johanna sings it really well! I would say that from a song point of view, this is definitely my favourite song.

I do, however, think that the Ukraine could win this year! Svetlana's performance is crazy!! She's absolutely wild! Her live performance is out of control! She is definitely "in it to win it", and is going all out to ensure she does everything to make this happen. She is one to watch on the night for sure! There will definitely be something amazing going on on stage during her performance. She'll keep you captivated, and make it memorable!!

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png A lot of the fans you had from when you were on Pop Idol and Eurovision 2002 don't know the reason why you dropped out of music and out of sight. What happened? Also, do you find it difficult returning to the music industry after being away for six years?

Jessica Garlick: After Pop Idol and Eurovision I started to write songs...something I had never done before, and didn't think I would be any good at. But I have been fortunate enough to travel the world since, co-writing with some of the world's best songwriters. I decided to take a step out of the industry for a while in 2004 when I got married to my teenage sweetheart Owen.

I lost my passion for music for a while if I'm honest and we wanted to travel together for a bit, and actually moved to Australia for a short time, before I got totally broody. So in 2007 I gave birth to my little girl Olivia, and have been doing the wife and at-home mummy thing since, which I absolutely love!!

I made the decision to get back in the studio and start writing again in January of this year and it felt so good, and when I recorded "Hard Not to Fall" I knew it was a song that I wanted everyone to hear, and I completely got my passion and drive back for it. The music industry has changed a lot since I was last in it...but in actual fact it's working better for me this time.

I have a lot more control, which is important to me, especially with Olivia being my main priority...I am first and foremost a mum, and I want to be a good one at that, and I'm also working with people that I really like and trust, which makes working together fun, and music should be fun. It's definitely a lot harder this time around, as I am juggling "real life" too, and I can't afford to be the selfish person that being successful in the industry can sometimes mean you have to be. I'm having the most wonderful time being back though, and am almost astounded by the great support I have from all my old fans. They're the best!!

Ani Lorak Flag of Ukraine.svg

Ani Lorak cropped.jpg
Ani Lorak, born Karolina Kuiek (the name "Ani Lorak" is "Karolina" spelled backwards), first became famous for her vocal talent in Russia and her native Ukraine in 1995. She took part in arguably the biggest performance of her career at Eurovision in 2008, placing second with the song "Shady Lady." Celebrating her 30th birthday in September, she has kept up a busy schedule, including the release of a new album.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Ani Lorak: I've just released my new album called "Sontse" (The Sun). The album was written and recorded in Greece at the "VOX studio" by Dimitris Kontopoulos, who also helped with the song "Shady Lady" for Eurovision 2008. The album will be released not only in Ukraine but also in Russia.

In the autumn I plan to start a large tour of 25 cities in support of the new album. Also, we are planning to play some solo concerts in the Palace "Ukraine" in Kiev. I was pleasantly surprised when, at the beginning of the year, an award came to my office from the British radio station "Eurovision Song Contest Radio." By audience vote, its listeners named me the "Best Female Singer for 2008" for my song "Shady Lady." I don't like to think ahead and to anticipate, but I'll try to do as much as my energies will allow so people can be fulfilled in the future.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Ani Lorak: Because I participated in the contest only in 2008, I can remember it all: during the promotional tour I visited many countries in which I hadn't been before. I met wonderful people: Dimitris Kontopoulos, Roberto Cavalli; I made new friends and supporters. [Editor's note: Roberto Cavalli designed the diamond dress Ani Lorak wore during her Eurovision performance.] I had to work very diligently to get the result [I got].

In Eurovision I found the heart of this contest. The "Artistic Award", which [they] usually hand to the best artist of the contest, [was given to me]; Raffaella Carrà invited me to her television program in Italy, and my tours took me further and further away geographically. I really liked the atmosphere of [the] contest. All the contestants were friendly, happy, helped each other, and supported one another. Those weeks were not simple, but very happy in my life.

I wish to all the participants lots of inspiration, tenacity, crazy energy, hard work and belief in yourself and your strength. It is not unachievable; the main thing is to settle for being frank and sincere to the audience.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Ani Lorak: I can say one thing – Eurovision is a very unpredictable contest, and to do any predictions is very difficult. I know that in Moscow this year there will be many very well-known professional artists: Sakis Rouvas and Patricia Kaas. The main thing in this contest is to enter the scene and present for your country 200%. I wish good luck to all participants, but I'll root, as a patriot, for my country.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What goals have you not achieved yet in your career, but would like to eventually?

Ani Lorak: We have a proverb: "If you want God to laugh, then tell Him about your plans." It’s important to have enough strength for my professional accomplishments, for my career, and for my eventual creative achievements. But all this must go together with my personal life. I want to realize my self-worth in all spheres. Maybe I’ll open my own clothing line.

But most importantly for me, every day I will raise the bar with regard to my professional development as a singer and artist. The main point – I have everything ahead of me, and I will go to [any lengths to] achieve my dreams — my Oscar is yet to come!

Marie N Flag of Latvia.svg

Maria Naumova 2.JPG
Marija Naumova, who goes by the stage name Marie N, is best-known to European audiences for winning the Eurovision Song Contest for Latvia in 2002 with her song "I Wanna." The next year, she hosted the Contest in Riga with past Latvian entrant Renārs Kaupers. Now 35, she has moved a lot of her focus to musical theatre and is very serious about honing her talent.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Marie N: At this time I am a student at acting school in Paris, so now all [my] plans are more about theatre, but I also started to work on my new album and I hope that at the end of the year I [can] present that to [the] audience, but I think that at the moment it's too early to talk about it. [smile]

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Marie N: I liked everything during the week we spent there. We really had a lot of fun. The [atmosphere] was very professional, participants were very friendly...but the most emotional [part] was our trip back home – the way from Tallinn to Riga by bus with the police accompanying us and people waiting for us with flowers along the road...

The only advice is to enjoy every moment and especially the three minutes of the presentation – it is really something special. [smile]

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Marie N: I think that there are a lot of songs which have chances to win, but it depends on the energy that [the] singers will bring with them [to] the stage on that special evening.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png Which task was more fun for you, winning Eurovision or hosting it the next year? Which one made you more nervous, and why?

Marie N: Of course singing was more fun than the hosting because you are responsible only for yourself, but hosting brings a responsibility for the whole show. I wish all the best for all the participants; enjoy. [smile]

Niels "Noller" Olsen Flag of Denmark.svg

Olsen brothers 2008.jpg
Niels Olsen, nicknamed "Noller," (pictured, left) and his older brother Jørgen (right) make up the duo The Olsen Brothers. A well-known act in Denmark since the early 1970s, the duo successfully staked a new claim to relevance by winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2000 with the entry "Fly on the Wings of Love." Now 55, Niels Olsen uses every chance possible to let his audience know that age is simply a number, especially in Eurovision which tends to favor younger entrants.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Niels Olsen: We are working on a new album and we will make a small tour to Sweden, Norway and Denmark for the rest of the year, so that's what our fans can expect. The album will be released in 2010.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Niels Olsen: The best memory...well, it's hard to say...we had a lot of fantastic memories from Stockholm in 2000. We will never forget the love we received from the public in all the European countries right after Stockholm, and the response from the Swedish people at the event. Apropos, I said to my brother after the first performance, "Well, Jørgen, I think it could be possible for us to have a hit in Sweden!!"

I would say to a "new" artist: Remember that you are not the center of the universe, and in a world perspective, the situation is not that bad if you lose the Eurovision. Stick to the ones you love and try to involve people you believe in, not the ones who promise you everything in life. In our case we have had the same manager for 35 years, we have been working with our friend and producer Stig Kreutzfeldt for 25 years, and so on. We have [made] several hits the last 35 years with these fantastic friends.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Niels Olsen: Well, I haven't heard all the songs, but I personally find the Danish, the English, and the Swedish songs very nice, but as I [said], I haven't heard all the songs yet.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png The Danish version of your winning song implies women "get better with age." Which women in the entertainment industry do you think personify that sentiment, and why?

Niels Olsen: Personally I think my wife is still a beautiful woman, but I think as you said "getting better with age" is not the right word. My wife is still a lively and attractive woman, and we are both in love with life. I also think that a woman like Annie Lennox is a beautiful woman, even though she is past 50. (Sorry, [I know] we don't talk about a woman's age normally. Sorry, Miss Lennox.)

Hanna Pakarinen Flag of Finland.svg

ESC 2007 Finland - Hanna Pakarinen - Leave me alone.jpg
Hanna Pakarinen, from Lappeenranta in Finland, first became well-known in her home country for winning the Idols television series in 2004. In 2007, she was chosen to represent Finland at Eurovision, placing 17th in the final with the song "Leave Me Alone." Her most recent album went gold this year, and she celebrated her 28th birthday last month, her combined CD sales having risen to over 180,000.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Hanna Pakarinen: I released my fourth album "Love in a Million Shades" earlier this year, and now I'm doing gigs around Finland.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Hanna Pakarinen: I think the best memory is the moment when I got up on stage in the finals. That was amazing!

It's hard to give any advice, but I think the only thing that's important is just to be yourself and have fun. [smile]

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Hanna Pakarinen: Of course I think the best song is the Finnish song. [smile] It's very hard to say who is going to win; it's the same thing every year, you never know!

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png Apart from music, what are some things that are very close to your heart? How would you like to use your popularity to help others?

Hanna Pakarinen: My family and friends, of course, and my hometown and the lake there.

I'm not really a big fan of the idea of being a role model but I'm trying to do my best, showing and telling the fans that the most important thing is to love yourself and be who you are. And always trust yourself, of course!

Charlotte Perrelli Flag of Sweden.svg

Charlotte Perrelli Mix.jpg
Charlotte Perrelli, originally Charlotte Nilsson, was an alumnus of two popular "dansbands" in Sweden before winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1999 with the song "Take Me to Your Heaven." She quickly became one of Sweden's most popular solo artists, and released six albums which all charted in the Swedish Top 40. In 2008 she returned to Eurovision with the highly favored "Hero," only to be saved at the last minute by jury decision and ranking a low 18th out of 25 nations in the final round. Perrelli, now 34, discusses her achievements and favorite moments of the past decade.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Charlotte Perrelli: I'm searching for new songs to [include on] my upcoming album. I´m also on the jury for the Swedish TV show Talang (Talent; the Swedish version of the "___'s Got Talent!" TV series). They can expect a new album, hopefully this year.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png You went to Eurovision twice, winning the Contest in 1999 and then also entering last year. What were some of the best memories you had from both times you went to Eurovision?

Charlotte Perrelli: The victory in Jerusalem in '99 was fantastic, of course. My funniest memory was when Dana [International] fell on-stage, it was unbelievable and I felt sorry for her. Last year I had a lot of memories. Everything was so different from '99. So much bigger!

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Charlotte Perrelli: I like many of the songs this year, but I believe Norway will win.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png Which of the songs you've recorded is your favorite?

Charlotte Perrelli: Hmm. I have many favorites, but "Black and Blue" from my last CD is a great song; [it was] written by Fredrik Kempe. I love the lyrics.

Sirusho Flag of Armenia.svg

Sirusho.jpg
Sirouhi Haroutunyan, nicknamed Sirusho, has been one of the most popular pop singers in Armenia since the release of her first album at age 13. In 2008, she represented Armenia at Eurovision, finishing in fourth place with the song "Qélé, Qélé." Now 22, she is close to finishing her bachelor's degree while still keeping up an active pace of performances and studio sessions.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What projects are you working on? What can your fan base expect to see from you this year?

Sirusho: I am currently working on a few big projects, one of them is the new song "Time to Pray" that I have made with my colleagues from Eurovision, Boaz Mauda and Jelena Tomasevic. The song is a protest against war, and the English lyrics are written by the President of Israel, Shimon Peres. I am also working on my fourth album which will be released in [the] summer. I also premiered my new song in Greek, "Erotas", and it is already number one [on] all the Armenian music charts. My fans are very strong and it's only a pleasure to work hard for them.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Sirusho: Eurovision is a big fun festival. I don't want to call it a competition, because the contestants become friends. I wish for the participants to really enjoy [themselves] and not be scared of it. Eurovision can give and take so much; it took my career to a new level, [and] now I work and have fans all over Europe and it's amazing.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png The music videos for this year are up at youtube.com/eurovision. Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Sirusho: I have met some of this year's participants in different countries where I was singing as a guest and they were doing their promo tours. I haven't seen all the performances so I can't judge. Also, Eurovision is all about unexpected surprises; that's what makes it interesting.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png You pursued a bachelor's degree in international relations. How do you wish to utilize your degree? If you had to stop singing tomorrow, what kind of career would you want to pursue with the degree you hold?

Sirusho: International affairs is something that had interested me. I like to learn. I always tend to learn more but I don't even want to think about stopping my career. I was born with it, it's a big part of who I am, and even if something happens to my vocal cords, I can go on with writing and producing songs for my colleagues...[but] enough about that; I still have so much in me to give to my audience!

Tajči Flag of SFR Yugoslavia.svg Flag of Croatia.svg

Tajci christmas dvd.jpg
Tajči, born Tatjana Matejaš, shot to fame in Yugoslavia at the age of 19, achieving diamond sales with her signature hit "Hajde da ludujemo" (Let's Go Crazy). She performed the song at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1990, held in her hometown of Zagreb, and placed seventh. The war in the former Yugoslavia cut her career short, and she moved to the United States, where she has lived for the past 17 years. She now tours with her husband across the United States, performing selections of contemporary Christian music. At 38, she is overjoyed to "have it all": a family of her own and the chance to make music on her own terms. Her career is chronicled on her website.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What projects are you working on? What can your fans in both America and in Europe expect to see from you this year?

Tajči: Apart from my regular tours, which I do four a year, I am working on a show called "Need a Break," which is a bit of a step from my spiritual music and more "everyday." It's more what mothers go through, with marriage and kids. It's a funny show. What I do well is I tell stories. It's how I am. It's who I am. It's why pop music didn't work for me as an artist. This new format is great for me, it's very fulfilling and I'm very excited and looking forward to it, being able to do that and explore musical styles.

I'm also hoping to go to Zagreb this year and bring my new music to them. I think it's time. I've been away for 17 years, and they still play my old music, and occasionally I go there and do radio and television interviews...I don't know, it's time for them to see what I'm doing. Anyone can see my stuff online, but what I do best is live; there's a lot of energy and power there that you can't really see in a recording or in a video. It's different when you're actually in the room. I want to bring it to them and say, "Here, my countrymen, my old fans, this is who I am now. This is how I grew over the last 17 years." Kind of like a reunion.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png What were some of the best memories you have from going to Eurovision? What advice would you give to the singers going to Eurovision for the first time this year?

Tajči: I really enjoyed performing, I enjoyed the energy, everyone coming together and singing, talking with other people about their careers. That was the highlight. I didn't care for the press or the competition aspect, but there's so much to think about, the whole country is looking at you. I don't think it could ever be just about music, it's more political. But there's always stuff that comes with it when you have any kind of gathering like that.

The time I was there, I was the last representative before the fall of Yugoslavia, and it was during the unification of Europe, and everyone was a bit more tense and elevated in that regard...and I was so young to experience all of that. I don't think I knew what to quite make of it. But it was a great experience, I'll always remember it. The night of my life, one of them anyway.

It's also very emotional because the singer who won that year sang about "unite unite, Europe." It was perfect at that time. After he won, in the green room, he pulled a red rose from the bouquet and gave it to me, and he paid me some compliments. For a 19-year-old girl, that meant a lot.

My advice is to have fun, and do it with all your heart. Don't do it for the sole reason to win, not to launch your career, but because you love it, and it's what you do and you're good at it. You can be an inspiration to someone and it can be more than just providing entertainment.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png The music videos for this year are up at http://www.youtube.com/eurovision . Which songs are your favorites and which country do you think has the best chance of winning?

Tajči: Since we're in the middle of a tour, I kind of scrolled through, and I think the quality of the songs are really wonderful. I feel like I want to pack my bags and go to Europe for the summer, because I think this is going to be a summer for some great club music!

I'm partial to countries [who sing] in their original language, and I can see how a lot of countries, how even when they do the dance number and include ethnic elements, I like that.

I like the guy from Norway, I think he's so sincere and didn't look to me like he was "trying" anything, he was just being himself. The song is nice and happy. It doesn't hurt that he's really handsome, and has a good aura about him. He had so much energy, and he grabbed me right away, the way he moved, the way he sang, it just pulled me in.

I also love Malta, I'm a fan of the big ballads. She has a beautiful voice. And Cyprus, she "did it" for me too. I also like the French song as well, but I also love the French language in general. Bosnia has a good song too, they have a certain sentiment that they always pull from and it works for them. Croatia, I wasn't too blown away, but I'm proud of them for still singing in Croatian, even though it may not sound as pretty as English to some people. Everything else, it was like, "It's beautiful, but I've seen it before."

Everything seems like Hollywood now, I guess because it's the times we live in now. All the girls are so pretty and the hair and makeup are perfect, and now I feel like an old lady, but I miss the characters from different parts of the world. It's influenced so much by Hollywood and the Western music industry. It was inevitable, the melting of it [East and West] all into one, so I'm partial to bringing some sort of local element into it. It comes with finding your identity and finding your place in the world as a country.

I volunteer and give my time to a local school and teach the schoolchildren ethnic dances. I live in the Midwest now, but I used to live in Los Angeles and New York where they are a little more aware of ethnic groups. I'm teaching them these dances to give them a little sense of what's being lost to the new kinds of culture and music. I teach some kids who were adopted from other countries, and I wonder, wow, are they ever going to be able to sing a song in Bulgarian, or Italian, or what have you?

My kids are half-American and half-Croatian, and I see how in my own life, being "globalized" and how people are losing the ethnic folklore and culture and all that, so with my kids, I try to teach them language and how to dance, because it's the way I grew up.

Wikinews waves Left.pngMike HaltermanWikinews waves Right.png I watched a clip of your documentary on YouTube, and I noticed one of the comments, asking you "not to forget your home, Croatia," and to come back because the fans there miss you. Now that you've made a life for yourself in America, do you ever see yourself moving back to Croatia with your family? Which country do you feel more ties and loyalty to, the United States or Croatia, and why?

Tajči: I want to take the kids and at least spend a year there when they're teenagers, so I can show them my country and so they can learn different things there. But I don't know, once you leave, it's hard to go back. I miss my country, I miss the history. I miss my roots. I miss running into a friend and talking about high school and grade school, stuff that you don't have when you move away. I love what I do, and I love what America has to offer, and what America did offer to me. There's a certain kind of freedom that you have that you can't have in a smaller country.

I will always be Croatian, it doesn't matter how long I stay here. When I go home to Croatia, when I go there, I feel like I'm home, but when I come back to America, I feel like I'm home here too. I guess I have to say that a person can be "home" anywhere if they have peace within themselves. You're gonna miss a lot of things about places you have been, and I do miss Croatia. I want to show my kids where I grew up and the parks where I played. That just may be a sentiment I'm going through right now, I don't know. I have a good life, my husband and kids, and I love being able to make the kind of music I want to, without any contracts or obligations. I'm very happy.

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