With her song, 'Cleopatra', Efendi was chosen to represent Azerbaijan 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.
Efendi's Cleopatra was selected by Azerbaijan's broadcaster, İctimai, in March 2020 as the nation's entry for Eurovision via an internal selection process.
This was her 5th attempt to represent her country. She competed against 4 other candidates who were vying for the same position, including Laman Dadasheva, Elvin Novruzov, Jabrail Rasulov and Riad Abdulov. A group of international music experts, comprised of music producers, authors, composers, journalists, and television industry representatives decided on Efendi as Azerbaijan's competitor.
Of her winning song, Efendi says: "Cleopatra is a song about trusting your gut instinct, standing up for yourself and being a “queen” - even when things get tough and especially if someone betrays or hurts you. It is truly a song about freedom, a celebration of all cultures and all sexualities and it’s a song that is meant to inspire people to be who they are and to be proud of themselves - just as Cleopatra was. She was a queen who went through love, heartbreak, and betrayal, but she stood up for herself and is now remembered as an icon of strength and femininity."
The song was written by Luuk van Beers, Alan Roy Scott and Sarah Lake and was produced together with Tony Cornelissen and features 3 traditional Azerbaijani instruments; an oud (a traditional guitar-like string instrument), a balaban (a wind instrument) and a tar (a string instrument added to the UNESCO's List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity).
The music video for Cleopatra was filmed in Azerbaijan at the Gobustan State Historical and Cultural Reserve.
Who is Efendi?
Efendi (formally known as Samira Efendi) is a 28-year-old lover of music, painting, pilates and dancing. On 3 different occasions, Efendi has finished in third place in singing competitions; Böyük Səhnə, The Voice of Azerbaijan, and the Silky Way Star in 2017- an international singing competition aired in Kazakhstan. She has also competed in popular music programs such as Yeni Ulduz.
She found more success in 2019 when she successfully represented Azerbaijan in The Voice of Nur-Sultan, again in Kazakhstan.
READ MORE: Efendi's participant profile
Although Efendi will not be performing on the Eurovision 2020 stage, she has been invited back to represent Azerbaijan in 2021. She also recently took to her Instagram to share some exciting news about her Eurovision 2020 entry: "We did it! 4 million views! Thanks to all!"
You can follow Efendi on the following social media platforms:
Azerbaijan in the Eurovision Song Contest
Azerbaijan is one of the newest countries to have made its debut in 2008 with Day After Day performed by Elnur and Samir. The duo finished eighth and was followed by a series of successes for the country including Running Scared, by Ell and Nikki's which won in 2011. To commemorate the moment, Azerbaijan issued a special postage stamp dedicated to Ell & Nikki's victory.
The 2012 Eurovision Song Contest was held in Azerbaijan's capital Baku. The country's success in the competition continued when Sabina Babayeva finished fourth on home ground with When The Music Dies. Her entry also won the Marcel Bezençon Press Award in 2012. Farid Mammadov flew the Azeri flag in 2013 with the song Hold Me which won the Marcel Bezençon Artistic Award again that year.
READ MORE: Azerbaijan's country page
Moscow-born Chingiz, who moved to Qazax and then later on to Baku, represented Azerbaijan in 2019. He reached 8th place in the Grand Final with the song Truth.