Exclusive: Carola (Sweden) speaks out!

by Benny Royston 163 views

This year�s Swedish participant at the Eurovision Song Contest is already one of the most successful to appear at the competition. Placing 3rd in 1983 at the age of 16, and then winning in 1991, Carola is aiming to become the first woman to win the competition twice this year.

Today, esctoday.com's Barry Viniker and Sietse Bakker caught up with Carola to get an exclusive first interview since her arrival in Athens. We asked about her participation at this year’s event, why she wanted to come back again after winning before. We are well aware from the reactions on our site that Carola has faced controversy about her alleged views on homosexuality. We took this opportunity to ask her about ‘that’ interview and if she would clarrify her position. As she says in her song Invincible: "I’m not gonna hide"…

Esctoday.com: Back in Eurovision for the third time… Excited?
Carola: Yes, very much so.

Esctoday.com: How do you feel this time, being the most experienced performer, in terms of Eurovision Song Contest?
Carola: I don't want to know about it! I feel so young at heart. And I feel so excited, both for the support from my country, and from the support of other countries. I experienced that in the fifty years show. That's when my heart opened up to the chance to compete again. I felt so much favour from different countries. Greek television was there, Israel, the Netherlands, everyone was talking to me. And I thought: what a great chance to reach the nations. This is where I started and I'm still thankful for it. I think I'm made for it, actually! When I came home, Christer had proposed this song to the record company, Invincible, and when I heard it I thought it could be a smash hit internationally. I think it's good that it's a dance club kind of song, as it's good for me to profile myself like that. Modern, not like Eurovision for the third time… A new beginning, in a way. For me, everything I do is like a fresh start. It's huge to be at the festival. The pressure is big, the media is big, the fun is big too. But in everything that I do, the pressure is very big. At every premiere, in every TV show.

Esctoday.com: Do you feel the pressure more this time?
Carola: This will be my first day on stage for rehearsal. I learnt something in London when I did Les Mis, I was so nervous. I was there for one week guest singing. That never happened before. I made a lot of gay friends at Les Mis. One, Andrew, was really close to me. He said: "Carola, enjoy"! And that's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna enjoy. I'll enjoy the atmosphere and good energy, and give everything I have and enjoy it. So the pressure disappeared and I could really release my energy. And that's how I feel now too. With age, and with balance, having the right persepctive, you know how to enjoy it, while being very focussed, running the race, not comparing yourself with the others but rather sharing with them like a good sportsman.

Esctoday.com: There has been a lot of talk about your views on homosexuality. Would you like to put the record straight?
Carola: I would love for every gay person to feel that I love them.I find it sad to think that they should feel threatened to believe in me, and to believe in my embracing hug towards all people, all religions, all people. Christians are divided too, you know. I don't believe in division, I believe in including.

Esctoday.com: The interview you gave in QX Magazine was misunderstood by many people, after what you said about homosexuality being cured by prayer.
Carola: First you mentioned the QX article, but that was maybe five years ago, but the first thing was in '91, and that isn't even worth mentioning now. It was an interpretation that not only the journalist made, but also the gossip magazines and the evening papers. Theywant to have a fight between everything they can, to write and make a fuss about it. That wasnot my intention at all. I met that journalist in Norway when I did the promotion (for Sweden 2006) and he said the same thing: that they had misunderstood whatthe article wassaying. And I told him that where I was coming from in my head at that time sounded strange, and I'm sorry for that. It was not my intention. I don't think being gay is a sickness. That's just not true at all! This time I had a really good interview with that reporter in Norway.

Carola's manager replies: "But as I said, it was brought up again in the QX magazine. They took some quotes from the QX magazine, brought them to the newspapers articles and put them together with stuff from eight years back, and again everything became messed up again. It created a whole different view that had never been there in the first place."

Carola: Yes, it had never been my intention to speak against anyone or anything like that. I am very including. I've had the luck to work with the best of the best. And gay people often work in show biz. I've felt such support, and it's wonderful…

Esctoday.com: How did you feel when you read QX?
Carola: Which one?

Esctoday.com: When QX put it all together…
Carola: Everyone needs to have the right to their own opinion, and QX has to have its right to maybe be at that time disappointed that I did not embrace everything. They thought that because I had left this church, I had all the knowledge to say 'yes' to everything. There needs to be respect from both sides. What happened is that the evening papers took that and made it explode. That's why it became so big at the time, the evening papers put it on the billboards. I'm more than sad about it, because of my own friends in church – I'm standing up for them (gay people) in the Church, saying we don't know, we can't judge what Jesus does. I know what it's like to feel different, I feel this empathy with homosexuals, feeling that you're different in society. We need to respect each other, we can't force our beliefs on me. it needs to come from love.

Esctoday.com: Let's talk about the people you're working with at the moment, Bobby and Henrik from Lionheart and Christer from STV, you have some great backing singers…
Carola: I just found out Henrik is a gay guy… I was flirting with him earlier! (Laughs!) He liked me too I know! I'm joking, but I shouldn't say that here, he has a great boyfriend…

Esctoday.com: You're having a lot of fun with this song. You had a throat problem in the Melodifestivalen final. You could see you were struggling in the reprise.. Is that cleared up now?
Carola: So-so. I'll be taking it easy in the rehearsals. It needs to heal a bit, especially on Wednesday and Thursday. As I'm been doing from 9am til midnight all the time, it's been all travel and no sleep. We have three fans now! They allowed us to have them although we have to share them with five other countries…

Esctoday.com: You've been doing a lot of touring and promotional work. Where have you been?
Carola: Not too many places because of finishing the Swedish album, singing day and night. I've been to Balkan countries – three: Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia and Montenegro. Norway, Ireland and Greece too.

Esctoday.com: We hear your song is top ten in Norway! So it is already an international hit. Will it be released anywhere else in Europe?
Carola: Well, we made a great video in Athens for MTV. You can see it on esctoday.com as well!

Esctoday.com: How will the performance change from MF with the walkway and your popularity in Sweden?
Carola: With the three wind machines, we're making it more energetic on screen. You'll see today that at first I'm alone on stage, but with a huge trail on my dress. It'll be all over the stage, almost, like an ocean to heaven! The wind will be low for the first chorus, then we'll be working against it with that trail blowing! I then take it off, coming from blue into gold. It represents human people, we have many colours on the outside but nside every person, thereis the gold. So I'm undressing myself, showing the gold, showing the real me. Then comes the second chorus, with the fire and the banners! We then do a little dance before the key change!

Esctoday.com: Have you heard any of the other songs?
Carola: Yes! I heard them once. I like Greece, Russia, Slovenia, Romania and Switzerland the best.

Esctoday.com: Do you feel you can win this time?
Carola: Yes! I want to win. But I'm not a bad loser. I'm really happy for the open door that's there for me this time. I want to be a voice to the nations. I want to encourage everyone because I believe in what I'm doing. I believe in the song. I'd love to release my next English album all over Europe. My Christmas album From Bethlehem will be in English too.

Esctoday.com: Well, thank you very much for your time, Carola!
Carola: Thank you!

At this moment, Carola is giving her press conference. More news later on!

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