Switzerland: Gjon’s Tears up close

by Stefano 1,291 views

The postponement of the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest to 2021 gives us the opportunity to discover some artists in a deeper way. As we know, 18 selected artists for last May have already been confirmed for the next contest. One of them is Gjon Muharremaj, aka Gjon’s Tears. The Swiss singer recently gave a very personal interview to talk about his music career and his plans for the future.

Earlier this year Swiss-German broadcaster SRF revealed that Gjon’s Tears the internally selected artist to represent Switzerland at the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest. The 22-year old singer and composer from Bulle was ready to bring his Répondez-moi on stage in Rotterdam. As we know, history decided otherwise. Soon after the 2020 contest was cancelled, SRF announced that Gjon’s Tears will receive the honour to fly the Swiss flag again in 2021.

“The piano was my secret”

But who is Gjon Muharremaj? The young singer revealed himself in a recent interview with Albinfo, a specialised website for Albanian-speakers in Switzerland. Gjon’s describes how he got in touch with the piano. At the age of 7-8, he was looking for an activity that would make him happy. Whereas some of his classmates orientated towards sports, he discovered the piano in a music school in his hometown Bulle. Gjon developed an intimate relationship with this instrument. Something that he didn’t want to share with others. The piano was his secret.

He started singing at a later stage encouraged by his grandfather. When he heard Gjon singing Can’t help falling in love with you from Elvis Presley, he cried. That was such a special moment for Gjon that he got the courage to continue doing something intimate in front of others. That was the moment when he decided to sing in public.

The start of an international career

The same grandfather is behind Gjon’s first international appearance. He registered him for a show in Albania called Ti vlen. He appeared with the song Moj e bukura more. This led the organizers of the first edition of Albania’s got talent in 2011 to invite him. His participation in the contest was quite successful since he placed third in the final. He was only 12.

Only one year later he reached the semi-final of Die grössten Schweizer Talente in his home country Switzerland. Yet, he was not done reaching international audiences. In 2019 he entered The Voice in France, going all the way up to the semi-finals in Team Mika.

Why Gjon and not John

Many Eurofans were puzzled by the first name of the Swiss artist. Why is it spelled “Gjon” and not “John”? The artists affirmed that this question has accompanied him since school time when the way he wrote his name was a statement about the importance of his origin. At that time, he continues, “it was important to understand that I was of Swiss nationality but of Albanian origin”. Gjon sees this pluralism as a priority and of irreplaceable value.

Through his 2020 Eurovision entry Répondez-moi and other songs he decided to address the issue of his origin. “Why am I a foreigner here, and also there?” These questions remain unanswered. Albeit very personal, they are also universal. These are questions whose answers change over time. “It’s life”, says Gjon, “to accept that you don’t have all the answers and that they are time-limited”.

Eurovision 2021 and beyond

Gjon’s Tears will participate in Eurovision next year but with another song. With this, the pressure to produce another hit song is much greater, he says. The new song must show that he is a multi-talented artist who can do more than only one thing. Along with other composers they tried to compose songs in different ways to present a true diversity in styles and forms.

Unfortunately, most of his concerts got cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the meantime, Gjon’s Tears is working on a new album with his band and he’s looking for a new label, probably in France. The opportunity of singing in French being greater than Albanian, he rejected an offer from Albania. However, he will continue to explore possibilities in the Balkans in the future.