Can Noa Kirel win Eurovision with her ‘unicorn’?

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Can Noa Kirel win Eurovision with her ‘unicorn’?

The former soldier brings her song about empowerment to the contest in Liverpool next month, but is more intent on promoting peace

Israeli Eurovision entry Noa Kirel
Israeli Eurovision entry Noa Kirel

Award-winning Israeli popstar Noa Kirel makes time for our evening video call after a long day of rehearsals. Aged 21, the triple-threat singer, dancer and actress is readying herself for the Eurovision contest, set to take place in Liverpool next month – the 50th time Israel has taken part.And the pressure is on.

“I am a perfectionist, I work so hard every day,” says Noa. “We are getting closer to the show, which is very exciting, but the performance is not a simple one. I like challenges and the choreography is very challenging, but I hope it will be amazing. We practise at least four hours every day.”

Upbeat and warm in her manner, she adds: “I have only got three minutes to do my thing, so I want it to be amazing. At the end of the day, it’s a fun process. I am going to bring the Israeli chutzpah.”
Noa, who will have her parents and her model boyfriend Tomer Hacohen in the audience, is conscious that she is following in the footsteps of Israeli success stories, with four previous winners including Dana International and Netta.

Dana International with Noa

“They’re all my friends and I talk to them every day,” she laughs. “I like it when the expectations are high. It’s a good thing. They have been giving me advice. Dana told me to focus on the performance, not the press around the show. Netta told me to ignore the background noise and not be too nervous. I have been performing for years, so I can do this.”

With Israeli Eurovision winner Netta

Noa’s bubbly personality and positive outlook explains much of her success, though it has not always been easy for the star. As a baby, she was diagnosed with a kidney condition that made her seriously unwell. On the advice of a rabbi, her parents changed her birth name from Noya to Noa, reflecting the latter’s linguistic connection to movement. Though she still monitors her condition, Noa has never let it hold her back. She even joined
a unit in the Israel Defence Forces dedicated to performing across the country to motivate young recruits.

“I always knew I was going to serve in the IDF,” she says. “It’s important to send an example, to show people you can have a career, do your thing, but still serve your country and be part of something so amazing for your country.”

“You can have a career, do your thing, but still serve your country,” says Noa Kirel

Now, she is hoping to inspire people with her Eurovision song, Unicorn. With a combination of Hebrew and English lyrics, Noa says the song has “a message all about self-empowerment”.

She explains: “Today, everyone has something to say about you. This song is about embracing yourself, about freedom. When I was young, I would get a lot of criticism and comments about what I was doing. Back then, I some-
times felt like I didn’t belong, but now I have brought my strength to the world. I hope my song will empower people to love themselves and not be afraid of who they are. I want people to believe in themselves. Of course, I want to win, but I want my message to come through: we are all unicorns.”

Born in Ra’anana to parents of Moroccan and Austrian Jewish heritage, Noa has huge pride in her identity, noting that she lost family in the Holocaust on her father’s side.
“I am so proud to be Jewish. By being here today, in the Eurovision we are winning.”

She credits her Moroccan mum for her “chutzpah and sassiness”, recalling her youth spent dancing along to previous Eurovision shows. “I always remember myself dancing, I would make everyone clap at the end of
my performance,” she laughs. “I remember watching Eurovision with my friends, we loved the performances, the stage and the lights.”

Performing since she was 13, Noa is one of the biggest names in the business in Israel and has won awards for her music, taken part in talent shows, judged Israel’s Got Talent and, off the back of her high profile, secured some big brand deals with cosmetic companies and Puma.

This has kept her busy, but she hopes that the Eurovision platform will launch her career further, hoping to one day work with the likes of Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Dua Lipa regardless of the latter’s criticism of Israel.

“Maybe by working with her I can bring peace,” Noa says, adding: “My dream is to reach the world with my songs, represent my country in music and acting, and perform on the biggest stages of the world.”

While Noa has been to London once before as a teenager, this is the first time she will visit Liverpool – hoping to also see some sights and enjoy local tourist spots.

But, above all, she is keen to make the experience a positive one despite the internal and external politics affecting Israel.

“I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to connect people through music,” she says. “Everyone can put their differences aside
for one night.”

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