Music news

Disabled entrants who competed for Eurovision

the stage for Eurovision song contest 2023

The nation has gone Eurovision crazy ahead of the annual event being held in Liverpool tonight, Saturday 13 May.

Thirty seven countries will compete in the 67th edition of the singing contest which you either love or would rather poke your eyes out with a sharp metal object.

To get into the spirit we have compiled a list of disabled entrants from years gone by, none of them have won the competition, or to be fair gone on to achieve global stardom, but at least they gave it a go.

SINGER: Corinna May COUNTRY: Germany YEAR: 2002

Corinna, who has total vision loss, found her love in music since she was a youngster when she listened to her dad’s jazz records.

It was no surprise when she was picked to sing in the school choir.

After leaving school May went on to release six albums, her second Wie ein Stern in 1999 was the same year she was pre-selected for the Eurovision Song Contest, but she was disqualified when judges discovered her song, Just to the Children, was already on an album by somebody else.

Determined not to admit defeat, May tried again in 2000 with I Believe in God but unfortunately The Almighty wasn’t looking down on her and she didn’t make it through to the competition. 

However, in 2002, she eventually landed a place in Eurovision with I Can’t Live Without Music, although she only managed 21st in the contest and was dropped from her record company in 2006 due to disappointing sales.

SINGER: Diana Gurtskaya COUNTRY: Georgia YEAR: 2008

Diana, who also has total vision loss, and just like May her road to Eurovision wasn’t an easy one after she unsuccessfully tried to represent Belarus in the 2007 contest.

But being half Russian, half Georgian, she had another stab the following year when her song Peace Will Come became the official entry for Georgia in 2008.

Finishing in 11th place Gurtskaya applied for a British visa, but her request was denied because she was blind. The news hit the headlines putting pressure on the embassy to revoke their decision in 2009.

Her career has seen Gurtskaya release songs with the likes of Demis Roussos and Ray Childs.

BAND: Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat COUNTRY: Finland YEAR: 2015

The Finnish rock band had members with Downs Syndrome and autism, perfect for a punk group railing against the mainstream!

Every song considered for a Eurovision entry must be less than three minutes [ probably to save viewers sanity]. 

Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat’s entry Anita Mun Pitta, which has the ‘snappy’ first verse which translates into I always have to clean up, I always have to do the dishes,I always have to go to work, I always have to see the doctor failed to make the final.

The band was formed in 2009 by a workshop for adults with learning disabilities. Despite not having much success at Eurovision the band had a documentary made about them called The Punk Syndrome.

SINGER: Monika Kuszynska COUNTRY: Poland YEAR: 2015

Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat had competition in 2015, they weren’t the only disabled singers trying to qualify for Eurovision. Wheelchair user Kuszynska also entered the competition - and they made the final!

Kuszynska was originally in a rock band who went by the name Varius Manx, but in 2010 the group were involved in a serious road accident, leaving Monika paraylsed from the waist down.

Her Eurovision entry, In the Name of Love, was centred around ‘tolerance, hope and love’ but the inspiring lyrics didn’t register with the judges who ended up placing Kuszynska in 23rd place.

In 2015 Kuszynska released her biography, My Second Life.

SINGER: Yulia Samoilova COUNTRY: Russia YEAR: 2018

In 2018 Samoilova, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, represented Russia at Eurovision, a much bigger audience than the one made up of oil workers at a local restaurant she performed at when she was younger.

With a passion for singing since childhood she formed an alternative heavy music band called Terranova.

When the members went their separate ways in 2010 Samoilova went on to study Psychology, but self analysis figured out it wasn’t for her.

Going back to her musical roots she entered Factor A, Russia’s equivalent of The X Factor, where she ended a runner up, her fame saw Samoilova go on to perform at the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

Samoilova was originally chosen for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Flame is Burning but she was unable to participate after being banned from entering Ukraine.

In 2018 she finally made it to Eurovision when her entry I Won’t Break failed to ‘break’ into the final finishing 15th out of 18th in the second semi final.

[ The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 is on BBC One, Saturday 13 May at 8pm, available afterward on BBC iPlayer ]

Related Articles