(JNS) Teenager Eden Alene is the first Ethiopian-Israeli chosen to compete on behalf of Israel in the Eurovision international song contest, set for May 16 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. On Tuesday night, Feb. 4, the 19-year-old won Israel’s reality show “The Next Star to Eurovision,” whose winner then goes on to represent Israel in the Eurovision competition. Her final performance was of Beyoncé’s “Halo,” and she was crowned the winner after a tally of votes by the public and several panels of judges.
Alene, currently a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, was the oldest of the four teenager finalists on the show. “It is an insane honor to represent my country,” she said of her win. “It is amazing that an Ethiopian is doing it for the first time.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Alene on Twitter, saying, “Eden, you are a champion! We trust you to bring Eurovision back home. Good luck!”
Alene, who moved this year with her single mother to Kiryat Gat from Jerusalem, studied ballet and theater and has taken voice lessons. She sang for two years with the YMCA Jerusalem Youth Choir, a mixed choir of Jewish and Arab teens, and was the winner of Israel’s X-Factor in 2018, in which she received a recording contract.