The Israeli delegation arrived in Kyiv today, jumping into their first rehearsal less than two hours after landing at the airport. Shiri Maymon proved very early that she is one of the most capable performers with one of the best voices at the Eurovision Song Contest. A fact that she underlined later at the press conference.
Shiri�s stage performance is simple. She starts next to a grand piano, with the backing singers across the stage. She simply walks to the centre of the stage and stands in the same place thereafter. Do not confuse this with laziness, the passion that comes from her voice and motions is unrivalled.
At the press conference, the head of delegation explained that they looked tired because of their long journey, and that yesterday was Israeli Independence Day, and they had been busy night and day attending public events. Shiri then took the microphone to say �I am glad to be here. I was in Belarus last week and stopped at Kyiv airport on the way home. This time I�m looking forward to seeing Kyiv�.
Asked about whether her life had changed after winning the Kdam festival in Israel, she said �yes, I had lots of interviews to do. To represent Israel is a huge thing and a big honour to me. I am recording an album now in Hebrew � there�s a lot going on�.
Moving onto the hottest topic of the press conference, Shiri was asked about her decision to sing partly in English. The head of delegation confirmed that the EBU would allow the language change as long as at least half of the song was performed in Hebrew. Journalists openly debated whether this should happen, with applause in roughly equal measure for both the opinion that the song should be only in Hebrew and that it should be partly in English.
When Shiri was finally given the opportunity to speak by a journalist intent on making the delegation revert to only Hebrew, she said �We decided when I won Kdam that we would keep the song in Hebrew. Then we changed our minds later and decided to do it half in English so that more people can understand it. Beautiful music is beautiful music, I want people to understand my song�.
Another touchy issue to be raised was the withdrawal of Israel�s neighbours, Lebanon because they refused to broadcast the Israeli song. Shiri said �When I heard, I felt that it is a great shame for her (Aline Lahoud, the singer chosen to represent Lebanon). It would have been a great opportunity to perform and show off her country�.
The head of delegation added �We welcomed Lebanon and hoped that they would compete. I hope that in ten years they will be able to look back at what happened and say �why did we do that?��. This received warm applause amongst the journalists.
Shiri was asked about her favourite singers in Israel and warmly replied �Rita (who represented Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1990), Dana International (1998), Imri Lida. I like a lot of good Israeli rock bands, we have very good music.�.
Shiri performed two songs during the press conference. One by her favourite singer, Rita, and also I will always love you from the Whitney Houston film The Bodyguard after a fan commented that her video to The silence that remains. She sang beautifully and received a huge round of applause. Shiri has certainly made herself one of the most popular artists at this year�s Eurovision Song Contest.