Jamala was born in 1983 to a Crimean Tatar father and Armenian mother and made her first professional record at the age of nine. The singer became popular after her participation at The New Wave in 2009. In 2011, she entered the Ukrainian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Smile but missed out on a ticket to Düsseldorf where the contest was held that year. In February 2016 she took part in the Ukrainian national selection again with the song 1944, and was chosen to represent Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest. The path to victory had begun.
Jamala performed strongly during the rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm, after which the betting odds of a Ukrainian victory were slashed. Jamala's entry, 1944, struck a chord with both juries and public and went on to win the Eurovision Song Contest after one of the most exciting voting sequences for years.
At the winner's press conference immediately after the show, an emotional Jamala was asked how she felt. "I don't have the words to describe my feelings in English. It was amazing. It was crazy. I was sure that, if you sing about truth, it can really touch people". The winning song, 1944, is a personal one for Jamala as it was written about her great grandmother.
Russia's Sergey Lazarev was the favourite to win in Stockholm, and whilst his fans were inevitably disappointed, he sent his congratulations to Jamala in a video he posted on his Instagram account.