With his song, 'Kemama', Benny was chosen to represent the Czech Republic in 2020. In light of the unfortunate cancellation of the 65th Eurovision Song Contest, we wish to highlight the impressive acts that were set to appear. This is 'In the spotlight', our feature honouring the artists that would have made up this year's edition of the world's largest live music event.
The Czech national selection, ESCZ, received nearly 35.000 individual votes - almost 10.000 more than the previous year - and saw Benny Cristo, with his song, Kemama, win with a total of 22 combined public and international jury votes. The jury was made up of previous Eurovision Song Contest participants from all over Europe and beyond, such as KEiiNO (Norway 2019) and Isaiah (Australia 2017).
Who is Benny?
A man of many talents, Benny Cristo - short for Cristovao - was born in Plzeň in the Czech Republic to an Angolan father and a Czech mother. He is considered one of the most significant mainstream artists in the Czech Republic and sings in both English and his native Czech.
Benny was a professional sportsman in both tennis and snowboarding - with some arguing that he has also been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter on a professional level. Despite his athletic abilities, Benny was lured onto a different career path after his appearance in a televised Czech singing contest in 2009 encouraged him to focus more on his music career.
The singer and lyricist has released 5 solo albums so far, including his debut album Definitely Different in 2010. His EP, Kontakt - released in 2019 - was performed for 15,000 people in Prague’s O2 Arena. Benny is known to work with a variety of other artists and most of his tracks were in collaboration with Canadian music producers, The Glowsticks.
READ MORE: Benny's participant profile
Kemama, which is translated to ‘okay mama’, is about Benny’s difficult childhood. The Glowsticks produced the song and the video was directed by Tomáš Kasal.
Despite his difficult childhood, Benny has worked hard for a successful career and is an obvious internet sensation; his YouTube channel has collected 545.000 subscribers, his Facebook page has nearly 450.000 likes and his Instagram account has gathered almost 800.000 followers.
Interestingly, Benny is an animal rights advocate who has been a vegan for many years. On his Instagram page, he announced his intentions to open a plant-based pub: "... On my birthday, 8th of June, me and my friends... are opening our own plant-based pub..."
You can follow Benny on the following social media platforms:
Czech Republic in Eurovision Song Contest
It wasn’t until 2007 that the Czech Republic entered the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Malá Dáma performed by Kabát, which finished in 28th place in the Semi-Final round. The country’s representative is organized through the public broadcaster, Czech Television, with many national finals taking place since 2007. However, the country has yet to win the Eurovision Song Contest.
READ MORE: Czech Republic's country page
Czech Republic's 2019 entrant for the Eurovision Song Contest held in Tel Aviv was Lake Malawi who entered the competition with the song Friend Of A Friend. The country landed in 11th place in the Grand Final.