In the International Year of Indigenous Languages, Sami-influenced music group KEiiNO has been selected to represent Norway at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest this month.
The group, consisting of Sami songwriter and rapper Fred Buljo and Norwegian singers Alexandra Rotan and Tom Hugo, advanced to the international competition after winning the Norwegian Melodi Grand Prix competition earlier this year. Their powerful debut single “Spirit in the Sky” was inspired by the struggles for equal rights regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexuality. The song is recorded in part English and part Sami and mixes pop, Nordic-folk and joik—the traditional form of song in Sami.
Given the Sami’s historical struggle in pursuit of equal rights, along with the United Nations’ current efforts in promoting awareness of the risks that confront indigenous languages, KEiiNO’s success couldn’t have come at a better time.