Macedonian Radio Television (MRT) announced earlier today that famed pop and opera singer Vasil Garvanliev will represent the Balkan nation at Eurovision 2020.

Performing mononymously as Vasil, the 35-year-old baritone was a backing vocalist for Tamara Todevska on North Macedonia’s 7th-placed “Proud” at Eurovision 2019. He told eurovision.tv that his selection was a dream come true.

“I am beyond honored to represent my country at the Song Contest in Rotterdam and I can hardly wait to put all my experience and knowledge into creating a magical journey that will touch people’s hearts across Europe.”

Though Vasil has had some success in his native North Macedonia recently with hits such as “Patuvam” and “Gerdan,” Vasil has persevered through very challenging times to get to where he is as a crossover star representing his country.

Born in Strumica, North Macedonia, Vasil found fame at a young age performing at the Golden Nightingale Festival. He also had a hit song in 1994 with the song “Marionka.”

Vasil moved to the United States with his family in 2002 and intended to pursue training in opera. However, in 2003 he lost his opera scholarship as his family were deported from the United States.

As he told Zenski Magazin, “We all went to different sides. My mother in Milan, my father in Toronto, my mother returned to Macedonia, and my brother to Bulgaria. I had not seen my parents and my brother in over a year. My father then came to Milan, he wanted to continue working from Italy, he had his own company, he drove a truck. We met for only an hour, and then I moved to Toronto, determined to build my music career there. A year later, my dad died in a car accident, driving a truck. It was terrible, none of us had an Italian visa, mine was expired, we couldn’t identify my father’s body. It happened at the beginning of August, and the remains were brought to Macedonia only at the end of August. The following year, 2005, my grandmother died in Strumica, too, and she died in a car accident. Soon after, my grandfather died.”

Despite these difficulties, Vasil not only persevered but triumphed, building a formidable reputation as one of Canada’s best baritone soloists. From “Candide” to “Ruckert Lieder” to “Don Giovanni,” Vasil racked up awards in critically acclaimed performances across Canada.

But Vasil felt the call of home, and returned to North Macedonia with the intent of pursuing a career there. Composer and producer Sasa Dragic brought him to Belgrade, Serbia, to begin work on music that sought to blend his operatic training with modern pop, and upon release the combination worked.

Since their debut in 1998 (though Kaliopi would have made the nation’s debut at Eurovision 1996 if not for the infamous audio only pre-contest elimination), North Macedonia’s highest placing was Todevska and “Proud.”

What do #YOU think of North Macedonia’s selection? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.

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