You are currently viewing 🇺🇦 All About Jerry Heil & Alyona Alyona: Ukraine’s 2024 Artist Preview

While the pair have collaborated extensively over the years, 2024 will be the first time Jerry Heil & Alyona Alyona take to the stage to represent Ukraine at Eurovision. Read on to learn more about their careers so far, their journey to Eurovision and their song ‘Teresa & Maria’.

Who are Jerry Heil & Alyona Alyona?

Jerry Heil is the stage name of Yana Oleksandrivna Shemaieva. She first gained recognition in 2012 when she began posting vlogs and covers on her YouTube channel. In 2017, she signed with Ukrainian record label Vidlik Records and released her debut EP ‘De miy dim’. 2018 saw her audition for the ninth season of X Factor Ukraine, making it to boot camp, while 2019 saw her first major musical breakthrough with the single ‘Okhrana, otmyena’ which became a hit single in Ukraine. She has released two studio albums: ‘Ya yana’ in 2019 and ‘Mandaryny i oleni’ in 2021.

Eurofans will recognise Jerry from her two previous stints on Ukrainian national final Vidbir. In 2020, Jerry competed with the song ‘Vegan’, a sharp, witty look at how her dietary preferences affect her relationships. Sadly, ‘Vegan’ placed last with both the jury and televoters that year. In 2022, Jerry returned with the altogether more serious effort ‘When God Shut the Door’, which reflected the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and was altogether more successful, placing third overall.

Alyona Alyona (real name Aliona Olehivna Savranenko) has been making rap music since the mid-2000s, initially working as a kindergarten teacher until her music career began to take off. Her first single under the Alyona Alyona pseudonym, ‘Rybky‘, was released in 2018 and charted in Ukraine. Since then she has gone on to release four studio albums and has collaborated with a number of well-known Ukrainian artists, including Eurovision 2016 and 2022 winners Jamala and Kalush Orchestra. She has received critical acclaim for her music, with a 2019 publication of Vogue comparing her to Azealia Banks and deeming her ‘Ukraine’s most unlikely rap star’.

Jerry Heil and Alyona Alyona have made music together since 2022, with many of their singles charting in Ukraine. Their EP ‘Dah Boi’ was released in August 2022.

‘Teresa & Maria’ and the Journey to Eurovision

On 11th January, ‘Teresa & Maria’ was released alongside the nine other finalists confirmed by Ukrainian broadcaster Suspilne to be taking part in Vidbir. The song was immediately established as a front-runner to win the contest and represent Ukraine at Eurovision.

Although some have criticised the song for having religious undertones, including Vidbir judge Jamala who worried the inclusion of Mother Teresa and the Virgin Mary might alienate listeners, the song’s message is actually much more universal. The use of these two figures is to embody the song’s theme of female empowerment, with the line “All the divas were born as human beings” emphasising the idea that even saints started as ordinary people, implying that divinity is borne from humanity itself.

The inclusion of Alyona Alyona’s rap verse further drives this theme, with lyrics such as “A girl, who is still so young carries a burden of pain on her shoulders, seeing it as a flaw […] There are saints in the sky, they have walked this earth and you know that’s why your thorny path is not in vain.” In an interview with Ukrainian publication Pravda , she said:

No matter what your skin color is, who your partner is, or even if you have one. Regardless of the religion you follow, you all are our audience. We aim to spread kindness and love, and that’s the core message of our song. We must unite during these challenging times.

Alyona Alyona on ‘Teresa & Maria’,

While many felt ‘Teresa & Maria’ would emerge as the clear winner of Vidbir, there were tensions surrounding the result. The winner was to be decided by an equal split between jury and televotes, with the latter being conducted through the Diia app which is used for many things in Ukraine, including the storage of digital documents. Shortly after the performances concluded, the app crashed, meaning there was a one-day delay to allow Ukrainian citizens to cast their votes.

With the results in, while the jurors had chosen Ziferblat as their winner, ‘Teresa & Maria’ was the clear televote favourite with 723,297 votes being cast for it – more than all the other songs combined! The duo had placed second with the jurors so Jerry and Alyona were off Malmö.

Ukraine will perform fifth in the first semi-final on Tuesday 7th May and are currently fifth in the odds to win the contest. Anything can happen at Eurovision so you’ll just have to watch this space. Meanwhile, we’re wishing the best of luck to Ukraine in May!

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