Special: Eurovision in sign language


The Eurovision Song Contest is the most popular song competition in Europe and one of the most popular in the world (remember the Netflix movie, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga). Throughout its history, sign language has taken the stage on several times, here we will review all of them.

Still from O Torvald's music video in its international version in sign language (photo: O Torvald)

Valters & Kaža (Latvia, 2005)

This is the first known time that Sign Language is present at Eurovision and it is also present on stage. Valters and Kaža is a young Latvian duo who started singing sitting with a guitar each and, when they got up, moments later they were performing the song simultaneously in Sign Language (from minute 2:14 in the following video). The duo came in fifth place, so they didn't do badly at all.

Signmark (Finland, 2009)

This Deaf rapper was the pioneer and the only one so far who sang directly in Sign Language while the interpretation was into spoken language. His name is Marko Vuoriheimo, he is Finnish and, although he did not make it to Eurovision, he was a finalist in his country and started a successful musical career. Signmark's flagship song was Speakerbox:

Evelina Sašenko (Lithuania, 2011)

This was the second occasion when Sign Language put on its best clothes and took the stage at the 2011 Eurovision final with Lithuanian Evelina Sašenko. She simultaneously performed a piece of her song C'est ma vie (it's my life) in Lithuanian Sign Language (from minute 1:40):

Željko Joksimović (Serbia and Montenegro, 2012)

Željko is one of the most popular musicians in his country Serbia. The music video with which he presented his candidate song began with a young man singing in Sign Language, joined by Željko himself also performing some parts in Sign Language. It seems that he was not bad at it, as he has a great ability for languages (he is fluent in up to six languages).

Tommy Krangh (Sweden, 2015)

Tommy was not the name of the Eurovision candidate singer, but of the Sign Language interpreter who interpreted the Swedish candidate Magnus Carlssons so enthusiastically that it went completely viral. Tommy interpreted Magnus during the final of the Melodifestivalen (Swedish festival that determines the representation of his country in Eurovision). The video has accumulated almost four million views and it is undeniable that it conveys great passion.

Sign Language Interpreters from Norway (2016)

One year later, the real stars of the show were once again the Sign Language interpreters who interpreted Norway's Eurovision entries at the Melodi Grand Prix. The Sign Language interpretation was praised by both Deaf and hearing people and unleashed a wave of requests for the experience to be transferred to other countries. In the following video you can see several fragments and the extraordinary quality of their work:

O Torvald (Ukraine, 2017)

O Torvald is a Ukrainian alternative rock band that was chosen in 2017 to represent their country with the song "Time" and of which they released an international version of the video in Sign Language, although they did not get to be accompanied by the Sign Language interpreters on the Eurovision stage. At least, the guy interpreting in Sign Language in the video is Deaf.

Jacques Houdek (Croatia, 2017)

The song "My friend", performed by Croatian singer Jacques Houdek was the song chosen by his country for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2017. He released a music video in an acoustic and Sign Language version performed by Deaf photographer, model and dancer Budo Jusić.

SuRie (United Kingdom, 2018)

The 2018 UK representative, SuRie, was the only artist that year to release a version of her music video in British Sign Language. What's interesting here is that SuRie interprets herself in Sign Language, which she learned specifically for the occasion through one of her fans.

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