Ruslana Lyzhichko

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Two years before Finnish metal sensation Lordi burned up the Eurovision Song Contest, Ukrainian vocalist Ruslana Lyzhichko set a whole new standard for performance and presentation with the fury of "Wild…
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Two years before Finnish metal sensation Lordi burned up the Eurovision Song Contest, Ukrainian vocalist Ruslana Lyzhichko set a whole new standard for performance and presentation with the fury of "Wild Dances," a frenetic mixture of traditional folk music and postmodern industrial sound, set to the most breathtaking choreography that the competition had ever witnessed. A nationally feted singer, dancer, producer, composer, conductor, artist, and piano player, a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and a member of the Ukrainian parliament, Lyzhichko was born in Lviv on May 24, 1973. By the age of four she was performing with her mother's band, Horizon, making her debut at a local festival. She did not turn professional, however, until the age of 20 when, having graduated from the Lviv State Musical Institute, she entered (and won) the 1993 Slavyansky Bazar song contest. The following year, she triumphed at the Ukrainian television festival Melody 94, although her most lasting successes came after she and husband-to-be Oleksander Ksenophontov formed the Luxen Studio audio-advertising company. Working in both music and visuals, the studio's output established Lyzhichko as among the most visionary figures in the Ukrainian media industry.

In 1996 Lyzhichko took first place at the Slavonic Fair-96 international arts festival, while her music video "Dzvinkyi Viter" became a major hit and won Best Video of the Year honors at the Ukrainian TV festival The Golden Era. Further projects over the next few years included the magnificent Christmas with Ruslana TV event, before she released her first EP, Myt' Vesny -- Dzvinkyj Viter, in 1998. Two hit albums followed, Myt' Vesny and The Best Live Shows of "Dzvikyi Viter" 96-98, and she ended the decade with, appropriately, the Last Christmas of the 90s TV special. Lyzhichko remained out of sight for much of the next two years, but bounced back in 2002 with a new record deal, with EMI Ukraine, and the album Diki Tantsi, mixed at Peter Gabriel's Real World studios. The album was awarded a platinum disc in the Ukraine. In 2004, Lyzhichko represented the Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest, performing the rambunctious "Wild Dances" (an album of the same name was released around Europe at the same time). Victorious at that competition, she returned to Eurovision the following year to perform two new songs -- "Heart on Fire," which opened the festival, and "The Same Star," during the show's interval. She also released the remix album Club'in; her next all-new album, Wild Crazy New, appeared in 2006, heralded by the hit single "Wild Energy."