Macedonia are in an out of Eurovision so often that it’s beginning to resemble the hokey cokey. Between their debut in 1996 and 2004 Macedonia competed every other year. Since the semi final process was introduced, Macedonia have only qualified for the final five out of twelve attempts. They have yet to secure a top ten finish and their best result came in 2006 with Elena Risteska’s ‘Ninananja’ when it finished twelfth.
This year sees the return of Kaliopi as the Macedonian entry, who is hoping that third time is a charm, having previously competed in 1996 (failed to qualify with ‘Samo Ti’) and in 2012 (came 13th with ‘Crno i belo’). The song has yet to be chosen, but given her track record of singing Eurovision songs in Macedonian, I would expect the same from her this year.
Kaliopi is not just a serial Eurovision pick for her country. No she has a well established following and a solid career under her belt. She showed a real passion for music from a young age. In 1976, she entered a Macedonian children’s festival called Zlatno Slavejče, which she won with the song ‘Mojata učitelka’. Following this Kaliopi toured with the choir of Zapro Zaprov, performing all over Europe. She has since gone on to study singing and has competed in a number of other renowned singing competitions.
In 1984, Kaliopi founded the eponymous band Kaliopi with Romeo Grill, recording their first two songs, ‘Tomi’ and ‘Nemoj da me budis’ at the request of Macedonian Radio. The band won best interpretation for the song ‘Leo’ at the Festival Opatija, an award voted for by the journalists of Yugoslavia. They released their debut album in 1986 and a follow up second album ‘Rodjeni’ the following year. Their second album spawned the highly successful song ‘Rodjeni(Bato)’. The band were active in the music scene, performing at various festivals throughout Europe, however they later split following the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
Kaliopi returned to the music scene as a solo performer in Macedonia and competed as Macedonia’s first ever Eurovision entry in 1996 with the song ‘Samo ti’. Although failing to qualify for the final of Eurovision, Kaliopi managed to re-establish herself in the Macedonian music scene and released her solo debut album, ‘Oboi me’ in 1999. In early 2001, Kaliopi announced the release of a new album ‘Ako denot mi e nokj’ which included the singles ‘Na pat do Makedonija’, ‘Dali me sakas’, ‘Mesecina’ and ‘Za samo eden den’.
Kaliopi has competed as composer and singer for Macedonian Eurovision selection process on a number of occasions. In 2002 she competed as a composer and a backing vocalist for the song ‘Pesna za nas’ (finished fifth). In 2005 she opted out of the process when she learned it was a competition process and not internal selection but remained in as a composer with song ‘Ne’ (finished 3rd). Then in 2006 she was one of the favourites for Macedonian selection again with song ‘Silna’ but only placed sixth in the national selection.
Other hit singles from 2003-2006 have included: ‘Najmila’, ‘Ne mi go zemaj vremeto’, duets “Bel den” with Macedonian-Romani singer Esma Redžepova and “Purpurni dozdovi” with Macedonian actor Vasil Zafirchev and ‘1000 Bozji Cvetovi’. In 2009, Kaliopi released the album ‘Oblivion’, a collaborative work with Edin Karamazov which featured eleven world famous songs performed in nine languages with musical arrangements for the baroque lute and guitar. In December 2010, Kaliopi released the album ‘Poraka’ and from it the singles ‘Ti’, ‘Ne sum kako ti’ and ‘Poraka’.
In 2011 she sat on the panel of judges for TV music talent search show Macedonian Idol and a year later she returned to Eurovision once again placing 13th in the final with ‘Crno i belo’, the first collaboration with former band mate Romeo Grill in over twelve years. Their collaboration continued following the Eurovision success and they released the album ‘Melem’ with the singles ‘Vučica’, ‘Melem’ and ‘Mrvica’. 2015 saw further material from Kaliopi with new singles ‘Mojot Dom’, ‘Poželi’. and acoustic ballad ‘Jutro’.
20 years on from her first Eurovision performance, Kaliopi is back in 2016, hoping she can give Macedonia their best result to date.