Eurovision.tv : In your biography, it states that you have been singing from the age of four years old. Can you give a brief outline of how your career has developed from then until now?
Ani Lorak : "In 1992 I took part in the popular contest called Pervotsvit, and became a winner, and that’s where I met my ex-producer Yuriy Falyosa, with whom I have signed my first professional contract at the age of 14. At that time I was singing as Karolina, which is my real name. The stage name Ani Lorak was adopted in March 1995 under which I became known in show business. There was another Russian singer with the name Karolina, already enrolled in the same competition, so by spelling my name backwards I created a new name. Ani Lorak comes from Karolina reading it backwards!. At the age of 19 I became the youngest singer ever to be awarded with a title of Honorary Artist of Ukraine, and also have been repeatedly recognised as the singer of the year in Ukraine. During my artistic career , I have won a great number of prizes and released ten albums, four of which became Gold according to their sales figures. Overall, I can say that my career is successful, and mainly because of the fact that I love what I am doing and I put my whole soul into singing. Of course, the audience always feels when the singer is sincere, and the greatest award for me is when I bring joy and happiness into people’s lives."
Eurovision.tv : You have also done work with the United Nations as a Goodwill Ambassador in Ukraine, can you tell us a little more about that, how you were approached and what the work involves exactly?
Ani Lorak : "The starkness of the HIV/AIDS problem I think is striking. I think that HIV positive people should not be isolated from the rest of society, and feel as if they are different from other people. I want the people to understand the fact that HIV/AIDS is not transmitted through friendship. It was a great opportunity for me to fulfill the role of the UN Goodwill Ambassador on HIV/AIDS in Ukraine in 2004. During that time I have participated in the creation of a social advertisement about tolerant treatment of HIV positive individuals, in various charitable events devoted to this topic, and donated money from my concerts to hospitals. It is wonderful that I can use my publicity to help people."
Eurovision.tv : You have had prior attempts to represent Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest, most recently in 2005. What is it about the Contest that appeals to you, to make you want to continue to try and represent your country?
Ani Lorak : "I always felt that my fate was to participate in the contest. In 2004, political obstacles prevented me from singing at the Eurovision Song Contest. But I think that everything is good in hindsight, it was just not the right time for me to go to the contest back in 2004. Now , this contest for me is not only the new stage I can perform on, it is a great opportunity to tell the world about the importance of the HIV/AIDS problem as mentioned earlier."
Eurovision.tv : Ukraine has enjoyed a very successful period since first participating in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2003, with a victory in 2004 and also a 2nd place in Helsinki in 2007. What in your opinion, has been the reason behind this success, when other countries have participated for many years, and not matched the success Ukraine has enjoyed in such a short space of time?
Ani Lorak : "As a true Ukrainian, I can say that there is no other country as Ukraine. I believe that there are many talented Ukrainians amongst the people we have sent to the Eurovision Song Contest, and they have enjoyed their chance to present Ukraine to the best of their abilities and the audience has appreciated them."
Eurovision.tv : You were selected to represent Ukraine a while ago, and recently the song Shady Lady won the Ukrainian selection process. Were you satisfied with the choice of song? How were the 5 songs chosen originally? Have you worked with Philip Kirkorov beforehand?
Ani Lorak : "Some of the songs for the selection process were selected from my albums, others were written especially for the cause. My favorites were Shady Lady, written for me by a famous Russian artist Philip Kirkorov, and A Dream for Brighter Day, which is devoted to the Darfur conflict. Ukrainians have chosen the bright and energetic Shady Lady, which matches my personality of a strong and confident woman who is capable to make a difference. This is actually my first experience working with Philip Kirkorov."
Eurovision.tv : Do you have any plans to promote Shady Lady outside of Ukraine before heading to Belgrade?
Ani Lorak : "Well, yes I have already visited the national selection in Russia and presented my song there. Currently, I am in the Baltic countries as a special guest on a concert tour of Philip Kirkorov, throughout Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in large capacity stadia. It is very important for me not only to promote the song, but also to feel the European audience and get the idea of how it is going to be at the Eurovision Song Contest. I also heard that Capital Radio in the United Kingdom has been making positive remarks about my song."
Eurovision.tv : Last year, Verka Serduchka finished in 2nd place at Eurovision which would have meant you were directly in to the final in Belgrade. The new 2 Semi Final system that was introduced however, means you will have to qualify through a Semi-Final. How do you feel about this? Do you think there is a risk involved?
Ani Lorak : "I feel confident in my song, and I think that the audience will be inspired by the message I am trying to convey. As much as any participant, including myself, wants to win, this is not a sport for me. If I will manage to touch the soul of at least one person, and help HIV positive people in the world, this would be the greatest award for me."
Eurovision.tv : Finally, is there anything you can tell us about the idea of the way the song will look on stage in Belgrade? Or any changes you are planning from the national selection performance?
Ani Lorak : "We are currently working on the stage performance. I can only say that I want to make my participation in the Eurovision Song Contest the most exciting and marvellous ever. I will do my best."
Eurovision.tv would like to thank Ani Lorak for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk with us, and also give thanks to Maryna Skomorohova of CFC Entertainment for her kind help and assistance with organising the interview.