From: Exit Staff
Albania Selects Anxhela Peristeri as its Eurovision Song Contest Entry

Anxhela Peristeri has won the 59th edition of the Albanian Festivali i Kenges, the contest that selects the country’s entry for the next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. 

She will perform a song called ‘Karma’ at Eurovision that will take place in Rotterdam in 2021.

The Festivali took place on Monday and Wednesday this week, outside, and in spite of curfews and restrictions on the gathering of more than 10 people in one place.

She was selected from 18 participating acts by a jury comprising of Luan Zhegu (composer, singer), Kastriot Çaushi (actor), Zana Shuteriqi (musicologist, composer), Vasil Tole (composer), Preç Zogaj (poet, writer), Ramë Lahaj (tenor) and Andri Xhahu (spokesperson and commentator for Albania at the Eurovision Song Contest.

The winner released her first album Anxhela per ju, in 2004. Since then she has been active in the Albanian music scene and has performed at many festivals and events. In 2018, she had her first solo concert, Reflektim. She first participated in Festivali i Kenges in 2001. Anxhela is originally from Korce, a city known for its musicians.

Last year’s winner Arilena Ara was due to go to Rotterdam for this year’s Eurovision, but the festival was cancelled due to the pandemic. This means that she does not have the opportunity to realize her dream at Eurovision with her song “Shaj”. Now, as the Festival takes place in December, a new song for Eurovision will be selected.

The Festival is an annual music competition organized by state broadcaster RTSH. Not only is it an exposition of Albanian talents, but it defines the representative in the European festival Eurovision. It has been running every year since 1962, first starting on the radio before progressing to television.

The first competition was won by Vace Zela with the song called ‘The First Child’. During communism, music was strictly censored and controlled. As the years passed, it became a propaganda tool for the Communist Party regime.

In 1972, dictator Enver Hoxha persecuted the festival organizers and declared them “enemies of the people.” They were accused of including “immoral aspects” in song and dance. After that, the Communist Party imposed strict sanctions and censorship on the competition including the type of music, dance, lyrics and dress.