UKRAINE – Susana Jamaladinova was born in Osh, Kirghiz SSR, to a Crimean Tatar father and an Armenian mother. Her Crimean Tatar ancestors were forcibly resettled from Crimea to the central Asian republic under Joseph Stalin during World War II, although her own relatives fought on the Soviet side.
In 1989 her family returned to Crimea. Her maternal ancestors are Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh. They were well-to-do peasants until her great-grandfather’s land was confiscated and he was exiled to Osh where he changed his Armenian name to make it sound more Russian.
Jamala speaks Russian as her mother tongue, and she is also fluent in Ukrainian and English which she learned as an adolescent. Though she wrote some songs in Crimean Tatar, she is not fluent in the language.
Her parents divorced for about four years so that her mother could purchase a house in Crimea for the family under her maiden name. During this period, Soviet authorities did not allow ethnic Crimean Tatars, like her father, to purchase property in Crimea.
After her win in the Eurovision Song Contest, she was awarded the title People’s Artist of Ukraine by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
After winning Eurovision 2016, she has gone on to publish many songs, including “I believe in U,” Which she performed at Eurovision 2017 as an interval act, along with “Zamanyly.”
On 17 May 2016, Poroshenko announced that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry would be nominating Jamala for UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
On 26 April 2017, Jamala married Bekir Suleimanov. Their relationship became known in September 2016, when she appeared with him at the Manhattan Short Film Festival. The couple married in the Islamic Cultural Center of Kyiv using the traditional wedding ceremony Nikah.
Suleimanov had recently graduated from the Physics and Mathematics Department of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and is an activist of the Muslim Crimean Tatar community.
In November 2017, Jamala announced that she and Suleimanov were expecting their first child together. On 27 March 2018 their son Emir-Rahman Seit-Bekir ogly Suleimanov was born.