Tamara Gee, who was representing Poland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 told us how she remembers her participation in the contest: what kind of emotions she had and tells why she would be honoured to come back to the eurovision stage.
Looking back at 2008: how do you remember participation in Eurovision? You were proud, happy, it was a big challenge?
Overall, Eurovision was a fantastic and memorable experience and I was very grateful and proud to participate and represent the beautiful country of Poland which is also the home of my ancestors, in an event which ultimately unites a variety of countries through the gift of music. I live my life with so much Gratitude and was extremely Grateful to the opportunity. Knowing that there were triple the amount of countries competing than there were some 20+ years ago, I was encouraged to keep an open mind and prospective considering the controversial, notable politics and to also consider that a full blown ballad would be a very difficult feat and has never won the contest to date. I had hoped for a jury in the final as we had in the Polish final which legitimizes the results as apposed to solely basing the results on sms votes, which can lead to corruption. But that year in particular there were no judges or juries in Eurovision, which is actually why I have kept an open mind in regards to returning to Eurovision. So, given the opportunity, with an energetic, vocally dynamic song and a jury presence… I would highly consider it!
Do you remember any funny/unusual/strange situation from that time?
Reflecting back to that moment in time… I was actually quite emotional, for a couple of reasons. Many didn’t know, but my young cousin Mindy, who was like a sister to me, passed away suddenly in a car crash the day I was filming the video clip to For Life. From that moment on, the song was extremely emotional for me to sing and I associated her with the song. When I watch the Eurovision performances, I can see and actually hear the tears I was fighting back. It was a very challenging time for me. Additionally, simultaneously I was experiencing some harassment with fabricated sensationalized gossip media, so I had a few daggers to deal with at that time. But, the old expression What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger really is true. And I am living proof of it. I am much stronger than I have ever been… Spiritually, Mentally, Physically, and Vocally… I didn’t know this would ultimately lead to me being a much happier person.. And in music, working with some of the most notable producers and song writers on the planet including Walter Afanasieff who has worked with many iconic vocalists such as Whitney Houston, Céline Dion, Mariah Carey, Barbra Streisand, Andera Bocelli, Pavoratti, Christina Aguilera, Leona Lewis, Luther Vandross, Patty LaBelle, etc. So, when a multiple Grammy Award winning musician such as Walter (who produced My Heart Will Go On, the biggest hit in Céline Dion’s career) equates me with Céline and Whitney… it is enormously humbling. All of these combined experiences on my journey thus this far have completely shifted my life on many powerful levels and more than anything… have given me a lot more confidence.
Thanks to your effort, Poland qualified to the final for the first time since 2004. What are your feelings that you managed to make through to the grand final?
I was incredibly humbled, honored and proud. Being told I was the first person to reach the final with the new rules in the contest and understanding that these rules were ultimately designed due to a massive amount of 40+ countries entering and competing in the contest presently, it was absolutely invigorating, especially performing a song I wrote, which was a ballad and not having any judges, the odds were really stacked against me. Knowing how many countries compete in the contest today, coupled with the saturation of reality television programs and massive amounts of new vocal talent surfacing on a variety of singing competitions globally, I am very aware of the competition today and that it is much more fierce than it was 20 something years ago… So considering all of this, it is something I am really proud of. It’s a real honor to have been the first and am I extremely humbled!
What was difficult for you to represent Poland in the competition? With whom, from other representations, you had the best contact? I remember that everyone wanted to talk with you: fans, vocalist, journalists…
I am proud to say I have Polish roots, and although I was not born in Poland… I represent the story of many half Polish or fully Polish people around the world… I just happen to be an American girl with Polish roots striving for her dreams, so that makes me enormously proud! I grew up on stage, so I really respect and value each and every person I encounter in this business, especially knowing how tough and competitive this industry is today and how hard you have to work, that it can’t just be handed to you. First, you’ve got to love what you do, and remember that someone is always going to better than you. You’ve got to back up your passion with a lot of hard work and earn your respect. But most importantly, you’ve got to be humble and have the inner strength of a tiger to survive and never, ever give up. I guess that’s why my nickname is Lioness I loved everyone I met in the contest, many nice people, many talented artists, many kind fans and journalists as well. This quote by Shakespeare summarizes exactly what I feel today from each and every life experience I have….
I always feel happy, you know why? Because I don’t expect anything from anyone. Expectations always hurt. Life is short, so love your life. Be happy and keep smiling. Just live for yourself and before you speak, Listen. Before you write, Think. Before you spend, Earn. Before you pray, Forgive. Before you hurt, Feel. Before you hate, Love. Before you quit, Try. Before you die, Live.
Rozmawiał: Konrad Szczęsny
Współpraca: Maciej Sychowiec
Fot. prywatne zbiory Tamary Gee