It was an impressive evening for Evelina Sašenko. Selected to take part in Eurovision Song Contest both by jury and televoters, she just stood there, wide-eyed, millions of things going through her mind. Just a couple of years ago she was mostly known to those who dig jazz and classical music. Now here she was, clutching a trophy and faced with the ultimate challenge – the biggest performance of her life so far. How did this happen? And will she manage to pull this off?
Born into Polish-Ukrainian family, Evelina started singing solo at tender age of 6. A year later, she made her debut in Dainų Dainelė (a wildly popular Lithuanian competition for singing kids and teenagers), becoming laureate six times. New challenges followed - studies of grand piano and violin, singing in French, gigs and music competitions all over Lithuania, performances in Poland, Germany, Belgium and a number of other countries, international festivals (resulting in numerous awards). As her experience grew, so did the repertoire – musicals, classical pieces, tributes to artists as diverse as Chopin and Edith Piaf.
Many Lithuanians found out about Evelina in 2009, when she took part in a successful TV contest for classical singers Triumfo Arka. People took notice immediately – including the country's most famous conductor Gintaras Rinkevičius who asked Evelina to take part in several projects with Lithuania's State Symphony Orchestra. Another popular TV show, several invitations to sing lead parts in musicals, studies for a Master's degree in jazz singing – it's sometimes difficult to understand how this 23-year old lady manages to find time for every exciting venture coming her way.
Now, where does Eurovision come into the equation? “I remember watching the contest as a small child. I always knew I wanted to do this”, she admits. Evelina first took part in national selection last year, coming third. This year, she just blew everyone away – well-known competitors held no chance as thousands of televoters and jury made unanimous decision. Evelina was chosen to go to Dusseldorf and perform C'est Ma Vie - a mesmerising ballad, perfect for showcasing her amazing vocal skills.
“Some people say it sounds like a song from a musical. I take that as a compliment. I always thought singing in musicals is where I feel the strongest. This song was written with Eurovision in mind. Trends come and go but I believe C'est Ma Vie is a kind of song that both 6-year olds and 66-year olds can relate to”, Evelina says.
Sung in English and French, performed by a singer who has Polish and Ukrainian blood running in her veins, written by two talented Lithuanians who live and breathe music, C'est Ma Vie is another proof that nowadays Lithuania is a melting pot of cultures where exciting things do happen.