Eurovision winner Katrina Leskanich says performing on stage was ‘appalling’

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Katrina Leskanich won the Eurovision Song Contest 25 years ago. She recalls the performance as a terrifying moment ‘followed by an amazing high’. She said that the contest opened her eyes

Katrina Leskanich represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest 1997
Katrina Leskanich represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest 1997

Excitement and playfulness is how Katrina Leskanich describes her memories of winning the Eurovision Song Contest with Love Shine a Light 25 years ago.

“The performance was the scariest trouser pull, lasting two minutes and 58 seconds of my life, followed by an incredible climax,” she said of the night that brought the UK’s final victory in competition.

“Back in 1997, everyone was very friendly and supportive in the green room. All the other action gathered around us with a glass of champagne waiting for our victory to be announced. There was a sense of camaraderie and the whole auditorium erupted when we won.

“It is a good time for the UK. Tony Blair recently became Prime Minister, Princess Diana has added extra shimmer to the UK, we have Brit Pop as Oasis and believe Things can only get better. ”

Katrina and the Waves Win Eurovision With ‘Love Shine a Light’

Things are very different in today’s post-Brexit Britain, and the war has darkened the skies of Europe.

Ahead of this weekend’s Eurovision final, Katrina’s loyalty has been tested. She said: “The UK is my home. “I represented it and had everything but the highest hopes and most positive aspirations in this event.

“Since I am half Ukrainian, I am also heading to Ukraine. My grandfather came from Ukraine to Pennsylvania in 1927 with his clarinet, where he was intending to form a band together. In the end, he was in the mines and he was killed in a coal mine. He left his nine-year-old son, my father, to sell clarinets.

“The family is very poor. Thinking about what my family has been through, and seeing what the Ukrainian people are going through right now, makes me very emotional.”

When the news became too much, Katrina, 62, was able to relive cherished memories of that special night when her soaring voice and song catapulted the UK to the top of the scoreboard.

“There were 24 contestants and we were number 23. By the time we played, people thought, ‘Wow, that can’t be beat’. There has been a lot of support from people who have come from the UK to Dublin and they have created a great feeling. I wore a green shirt for good luck. We wanted to light up the room with a feeling of freshness and positivity – and that’s what we did. Task completed. ”

Katrina with Terry Wogan in 1997

Late broadcaster and legendary Eurovision vocalist Sir Terry Wogan bid farewell to Katrina & The Waves late at night. “He taught me to drink a wonderful drink with a champagne pairing that was a Guinness World Record. I even smoked one of Terry’s famous cigars after the win. He is very proud and, therefore, very supportive.”

Entering was an eye-opener for Katrina, who was born in Kansas and came to Britain in 1976 when her father, a US Air Force colonel, was stationed there.

“I hadn’t watched Eurovision before, so the organizers gave me 12 videotapes to watch over a weekend.

“It is amazing. I thought, ‘What in the world is going on?’ Do you have kettle drums and toilet paper as props for dances? It seems that a poodle is like a circus. Then the coin drops. I thought, ‘We’ve got the perfect song to win. “

The band had an international hit with Walking on Sunshine and knew that competing risked ruining their rock credentials.

“In the end, the song — Love Shine a Light — overcame any fears we had about discrediting because it was so good and still so good,” Katrina said.

Katrina says performing at Eurovision was ‘terrifying’



They split shortly after Eurovision and Katrina had a Radio 2 show for over a year. Currently touring as Katrina from Katrina & The Waves, the finale is one of her busiest nights. “I’ve never missed a competition since then,” she said.

Asked to choose her favorite British act since her big win, and one where she had to see through her fingers, Katrina couldn’t hold back.

“The best is Andrew Lloyd Weber’s song for Jade Ewen, which came in at No. 5 in 2009. Then there’s Jemini. Come on, when Jemini didn’t sing in tune in 2011, it was a sad moment. ”

This year’s entry, Sam Ryder’s Spaceman, gave us “a great opportunity,” she said.

To the divided loyalists, she added: “I think let the UK win and Ukraine second.”

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Fry Electronics Team

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