Ermal Meta becomes first Albania-born artist to grab three Sanremo awards
TIRANA, Feb. 14 – Ermal Meta finished third in Italy’s prestigious Sanremo music festival and also grabbed the Critics and Best Cover awards, making history as the first Albania-born artist to achieve this.
The Italy-based 35-year singer-songwriter came third in the 67th Sanremo edition with his “Vietato morire” (Forbidden to die) ballad pop song as an appeal to say no to domestic violence. “I dedicate this song to my mother who taught me to disobey to every kind of violence. The song is a hymn to life. One should confront life face-to-face. We are the result of proven experience, but we also possess the strength to become what we want to. It is important to speak out and share to get out of loneliness,” Meta has told Italy’s Ansa news agency.
In a message to the Albanian singer, Albania’s ambassador to Italy Anila Bitri said Ermal Meta’s personal success was a message for every Albanian.
“Your Sanremo awards are a deserved professional personal success, but are undoubtedly also important and priceless for Albania and Albanians. Your success is a fine expression of culture and arts that Albanians who live, study and work in Italy create, especially the new Albanian-Italians,” said the Albanian ambassador.
Albania’s famous Italy-based ballet dancer Kledi Kadiu said Ermal Meta’s winning cover performance of Domenico Mudugno’s “Amara Terra Mia” was a victory for all migrants.
“I find myself in this song. I am also happy for him because he is an Albanian just like me. He showed great maturity. The song is about people forced to leave their country and his experience really made his performance natural,” said Kadiu, a famous ballet dancer in Italy who left Albania in the early 1990s during the mass exodus just as the communist regime was collapsing.
Meta, who left Albania and his hometown of Fier at the age of 13, performed with several bands in Italy and wrote songs for several famed Italian artists before embarking on a solo career in 2013. Back in 2016, he also came third in Sanremo’s Newcomers’ section.
“I feel like a tree with its roots in Albania, but its leaves getting Italian sunshine,” Meta has earlier said.
The Italy-based singer says there’s still a tendency of prejudice among Italians over the Albanian community which is represented by some 500,000 migrants who went to Italy starting in the early 1990s after the collapse of Albania’s hardline communist regime and an earlier Arberesh community of some 90,000 speakers who settled in southern Italy in the 15tth century after Skanderbeg’s death.
“There is still a tendency here to talk about Albania only in case of crimes committed by Albanians. And this is wrong. Huge damage is incurred as an entire people is offended. There are rotten apples everywhere, even in the best grove. Albania is a beautiful country with much art and culture. It reminds me of Skanderbeg, our national hero who fought the Ottomans to defend Christianity,” he has said.
Albania-born Italy based singer Elsa Lila also performed in the 2007 Sanremo. Ana Oxa, an Italian-born singer of Albanian origin has won the Sanremo twice, most recently in 1999.