As rehearsals get underway in Rotterdam, we continue to profile all 39 participants in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Next up, it’s “The Lucky One” Uku Suviste, who was handed a second chance at Eurovision glory by the Estonian voters. Will his previous competition experience help him to the Eurovision final next week?
Who is Uku Suviste?
With a wealth of experience in the music business, Uku Suviste is perhaps one of the better prepared performers in this year’s contest! Born in the south-eastern city of Võru, Estonia on 6th June 1982, Uku is the son of well-known TV producer Raivo Suviste, and radio journalist and classical singer Heli Suviste-Polikarpus, with his parents separating when he was three years old. His uncle Väino Puura is also a well known opera singer in Estonia. As a child, Uku dreamed of being a director like his father, but it soon became clear that Uku had a talent for performing and singing.
Aged six, Suviste began his specialised music education at the famed Tallinn School No. 21, at the same time participating in the Tallinn Boys Choir and learning solfeggio from choir leader Lydia Rahula.
In 1997, Uku graduated in piano and eventually graduated from the school in 2000 with commendations in music and physical education. Following his graduation, Uku served eight months of military service at the Guard Battalion.
Following four years of education at the Estonian Information Technology College as a computer systems administratior, he went to the Georg Ots School of Music in Tallinn to specialise in pop jazz vocals. Uku’s education also took in a stint at the famous Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where he majored in singing, writing and music production.
After his graduation in 2004, Uku took to participating in various singing competitions and begun to enhance his profile as a performer, appearing on multiple occasions in the Uno Naissoo singing competition and winning with a self-penned entry in 2008 alongside friend Mairo Marjamaa.
In 2005, he took part in the Estonian singing competition “Kaks Takti Ette”, finishing in third place, and began to work as a producer for many experienced Estonian artists which allowed him to grow his professional expertise. In 2006, he joined the RnB and disco band Lament, as a vocalist and keyboard player.
Following some smaller releases, Uku collaborated with 2007 Estonian Idol winner and the eventual representative of Estonia at Eurovision 2013, Birgit Õigemeel, on a collaborative album called “Ilus Aeg”. Suviste produced all of the tracks and featured vocally on a number, with the duo giving a number of promotional concerts for the release. Suviste then participated in Russia’s famous “New Wave” contest and finished third.
With the next years seeing Uku make some low-key appearances on Estonian television, he participated in Russia’s version of The Voice in 2018, and was eliminated in the semi-finals after being coached by Ukraine’s 2008 representative Ani Lorak.
Uku has also featured as an ensemble member of various stage musicals in Estonia, including “Oliver!” and “Chicago”. He was cast as Danny in “Grease” opposite Getter Jaani as Sandy.
How did Uku get to Rotterdam?
Uku has a great deal of experience with singing competitions both domestically and abroad, and so it would only be a matter of time before he tried his hand at participating in Eesti Laul and ultimately aiming for Eurovision.
He participated in Eesti Laul for the first time in 2017 performing “Supernatural”, but did not qualify for the final. He finished more successfully on his second participation in 2019, performing “Pretty Little Liar”. He qualified for the Eesti Laul final and on 16th February 2019 finished second to Victor Crone’s “Storm”.
Uku Suviste then returned the next year to Eesti Laul, entering “What Love Is”. The pop ballad finished second in the semi-final before taking the competition in the final, with Uku earning a strong support from the Estonian televote in particular. Thus, Uku was selected to go to Eurovision 2020 before the contest was cancelled on 18th March 2020.
Unlike many other participants in Eurovision 2020, Uku was offered the unique position of a place in the national final, without any guarantees of being selected once again to represent his country. Uku took up the offer, once again collaborating with Sharon Vaughn and entering the moody synthpop song “The Lucky One” for consideration by ERR.
Despite not receiving strong support from the juries in the semi-final of Eesti Laul 2021, Uku’s public support won through to qualify him in third position to the Eesti Laul final. There, Uku came through a tense victory in the jury voting to ultimately win the final televote and be chosen once again for Estonia at Eurovision.
How has Uku been preparing for Eurovision since selection?
Upon his victory in Eesti Laul, preparations for Eurovision begun immediately. So quickly, in fact, that he recorded his live on-tape performance on the Eesti Laul stage that night to submit to the EBU, in case for any reason he was unable to participate in the contest live. Reacting to his victory, he told Estonian radio “It was in a different way and the emotions that were triggered last year, I didn’t do them a second time on the outside, as seen in the TV picture, but a lot happened inside, the emotions are undoubtedly very positive.”
On March 17th, it was confirmed that Uku would be working with Marvin Dietmann on the direction of his stage performance of “The Lucky One” in Rotterdam. Dietmann previously worked with Conchita Wurst on her Eurovision-winning performance of “Rise Like a Phoenix”, while he will also work with six other countries on their staging for this year’s contest.
Suviste told the Estonian TV programme “Ringvaate” that he hopes to have a well-rehearsed performance come May; “It’s in the interest of every singer on stage that, just as he had planned in advance, he could do it on stage, because that’s what everyone’s TV, cameras and everything take into account.”
Uku led into his departure to Rotterdam with a number of performances and appearances at pre-party events. On April 27th, Uku released a “semi-acoustic” version of his Eurovision entry to his YouTube channel.
Estonia’s Uku Suviste will perform “The Lucky One” in the second semi-final of Eurovision 2021 on May 20th, performing second on the night.
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