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May 16, 2011



Azerbaijan wins the world's biggest music competition - Eurovision

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Azerbaijan won the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest, taking top honors with a love song in the competition of 43 countries that took place in the German city of Dusseldorf on May 14, and was watched by an audience of more than 120 million people in 55 countries.

The song "Running Scared" about a love-struck couple was performed by Nigar Jamal, 30, a mother-of-two, and 21- year-old student Eldar Gasimov. The duo, known as Ell & Nikki, beat 24 other finalists winning a total 221 points. In accordance with the contest’s rules, next year's Eurovision will be hosted in Baku, Azerbaijan.

It took Azerbaijan only four years to win the contest, which, held annually since 1956, remains the world's most watched non-sporting event. In 2008, Azerbaijan debutted with a duo of Elnur and Samir who sang a terrific rock song "Day After Day" taking the 8th place. In 2009, a duo of AySel and Arash with a superb song "Always" earned Azerbaijan the 3rd place. Safura, as a single warrior, with her excellent voice and song "Drip Drop", took the 5th place in 2010.

Winning the Eurovision 2011 crown is an outstanding victory for Azerbaijan's rich musical and cultural heritage. As a nation that established the first secular parliamentary democracy in the Muslim world back in 1918, Azerbaijan was also the first majority-Muslim country where an opera (1908), a Broadway-style musical comedy (1910) and a ballet (1940) were composed and staged. In 2003, Azerbaijani traditional music Mugam was proclaimed by UNESCO a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Major U.S. media outlets reported about Azerbaijan's Eurovision victory with excitement. CNN said: "Azerbaijan won the competition, with a sweet pop song that Europe slowly fell in love with during the course of the contest". Wall Street Journal wrote: "It is certainly exciting to see a secular democracy that borders Iran and has a Shiite Muslim majority population embracing the European ideal as posited by Eurovision". Time Magazine: "European voters bypassed all the celebrity hype in favor of Ell & Nikki".

Ell & Nikki’s winning performance can be watched here: http://bit.ly/mupbv1