Skip to main content

Rebels Massiel and Salvador Sobral on winning Eurovision

31 December 2018 at 08:46 CET
Massiel Sobral
Both Massiel and Salvador Sobral won the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of their countries for the first time, and both possess strong personalities with a certain rebellious attitude. With Eurovision memories 50 years apart, their meeting on Spanish television could have only been interesting.

The Spanish TV show Mi Casa Es La Vuestra (My Home is Yours) is a talk show where several celebrities are invited to host Bertin Osborne's home. In this episode, he united Massiel, who won the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest for Spain, and Salvador Sobral, who won the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest for Portugal.

"The most important things came after Eurovision"

It has been fifty years since Massiel became the first Spanish winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, something that has marked her life ever since:

“Winning Eurovision has made me unhappy, but not because of winning the contest itself but because of my strong personality and the stigma of always being the Eurovision winner." Massiel continued: “It seems like I always had to apologise for being the winner but, if I’m honest, the most important things I’ve done in my career have been thanks to Eurovision, after winning.”

"Eurovision is the best music show in Europe"

Massiel was born 71 years ago in Madrid and released her first music at age 16. She vividly remembers her determination to partake in the 13th Eurovision Song Contest, since her selection  was very last-minute: “Even if it included a lot of work in a bit more than a week’s time, like coming back to Europe, recording the song and its international language versions, finishing the song’s promo tour in Europe and a quick visit to Paris to buy my Eurovision outfit at Courrèges with my own money.” But she wanted to be a part of it: “Eurovision was, and still is, the best music show produced in Europe."

Her performance in the United Kingdom on 6 April 1968 proved to be successful, although the voting was a total thriller; Massiel won by beating the home entry, Sir Cliff Richard who performed Congratulations, by only one point. Massiel has come to terms with La, La, La: “Let’s watch my performance again. We’ve seen it millions of times, but it’s what I'm known for, and an important part of music history in Spain."

Amar Pelos Dois: "It's not understood yet"

Salvador Sobral has a strong link with Spain, as he lived and studied in the country for quite some time before winning the Eurovision Song Contest. He first lived in Mallorca, then Barcelona, and later travelled through Andalucia in the South of the country. After giving Portugal its first Eurovision victory, Salvador's profile has risen in the neighbouring nation. His only releases after winning the contest have been two songs in Spanish; Mano a Mano and Cerca del Mar.

In his homeland of Portugal, Salvador gained popularity after taking part in a talent show, an experience that made him disappointed in the music business. Just like Massiel, Sobral is an artist with a strong personality. But he managed to fall in love with music again after studying jazz in Barcelona and performing across Spain. Around that time he fell ill and went back to Portugal. There he focused on creating his own project, which included singing Amar Pelos Dois, written by his sister Luisa, for the Portuguese Eurovision selection in 2017.

He was not necessarily looking to participate in the contest but loved the song at first listen: "How could I say no?" He accepted to enter in Festival Da Canção, without high hopes of winning: “I was rather accepting to be back in a music TV show but this time trying to touch people through music.” And he recognizes that people did not understand the song: "It's not understood yet, people did not feel it was a Eurovision song. My mission was exactly that, to bring another kind of music to the competition."

Then Portugal won the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. Salvador explained: “It has completely changed my life. In many ways. I’m doing lots of concerts; right now I’m touring Spain for a bigger audience, something which was unthinkable only a couple of years ago…I’m doing what I want: the music I like and with the musicians that I respect.”

Looking healthy, Salvador spoke about the time that followed his Eurovision victory: “I’m feeling great. The truth is that it’s been difficult but, as humans, we adapt to circumstances." Salvador speaks openly about his heart transplant on 8 December 2017: "I knew I had to go through the operation, first being in the waiting list, then living in the hospital for some months." He continued: “I keep adapting to the current situation, which is a positive one. It's still a process, but I feel strong both mentally and physically. It’s a new life."

Mi Casa Es La Vuestra ended on a high note, when Salvador sat down at a piano to perform a short medley, incoporating Amar Pelos Dois, accompanied by the Lebanese-born Spanish violinist of Armenian descent, Ara Malikian.

Which Eurovision Song Contest winners do you think should meet with each other? Let us know in the comments!