Born and raised in Lviv, western Ukraine to a Ukrainian father and a Russian mother, Ruslana Lyzhychko, known as Ruslana, is an acclaimed singer, producer and composer who first shot to global stardom after winning the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest.
But the performer’s activities are not limited to music: Ruslana has been actively participating in Ukrainian political life since her victory in the competition.
Winning Europe’s heart with her energetic performance of “Wild Dances”, she soon became the most popular performer in Ukraine. The country’s President awarded her the title of People’s Artist of Ukraine, and the Prime Minister even appointed her as an adviser.
She is also a former MP serving as deputy in the Ukrainian parliament for the Our Ukraine Party.Ruslana was the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in Ukraine in 2004-2005.She is recognized as the most successful Ukrainian female solo artist internationally and was included in the top 10 most influential women of 2013 by the Forbes magazine. The U.S. Secretary of State honored her with the International Women of Courage Award in March, 2014.She has been named an honorary citizen of her hometown Lviv and was nominated to receive the title Hero of Ukraine.
She is a singer, songwriter, producer, musical conductor, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, voice actress and social activist. She writes, composes and produces her own songs and music videos. Since 28 December 1995 she has been married to Oleksandr Ksenofontov, a Ukrainian record producer.Together they have run the company Luxen Studio since 1993, producing radio and film trailers.
Ruslana was the first artist from the former Soviet Union to officially receive a platinum disc, her Dyki tantsialbum selling more than 170,000 copies in the first 100 days after its release.This album is the best selling Ukrainian album to date, together with its English version, more than 500,000 copies being sold solely in Ukraine.
She won the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Wild Dances” receiving 280 points, which at that time was a record of points.Following her victory, she rose to fame in Europe and became one of the biggest pop stars from the Eastern part of the continent. Her winning song “Wild Dances” dominated the European charts for 97 weeks peaking at number one in Belgium for 10 consecutive weeks.Her Eurovision winning song was included on the official compilation album called The Very Best of Eurovisioncelebrating the 60th anniversary of the contest.
Her repertoire includes songs performed mainly in Ukrainian and English, but she also recorded cover versions in Spanish and Latin languages.
Ruslana started her career as the winner of the Slavianski Bazaar song competition in Vitebsk, Belarus in 1996 with the song Oj, letili dyki husi.In the same year, she was among the nominees for the Ukrainian Singer of the Year award and the video for Dzvinkyi Viter (Wind Bells) was awarded Music Video of the Year. Since her early career, Ruslana’s producer was Oleksandr Ksenofontov, whom she married in 1995.
In 1997, Ruslana began working on Christmas with Ruslana – the first L’viv Christmas television project of an All-Ukrainian scale including the video clip Ballad of a Princess which was the first animated music video made by a Ukrainian singer.
Her first album Myt Vesny – Dzvinkyi Viter (A Moment of Spring – Wind Bells), released in 1998, received high praise from the critics.
Still, wider recognition did not come until 1998 with the song Svitanok (Sunrise) and the album Myt’ Vesny – Dzvinkyj Viter Live. Svitanok was the first Ukrainian big-budget music video. In 1998, Ruslana was awarded Person of the Year, the song Svitanok was awarded Song of the Year and its accompanying music video was awarded Music Video of the Year. In the second half of 1998, she organized a charity tour which had the aim of raising funds for the restoration of the old castles from Western Ukraine. The tour was a success and thanks to Ruslana’s efforts, the Zolochiv Castle was restored.
In 1999, she worked on the Christmas musical Ostanne rizdvo 90th (The Last Christmas of the 90s), which won the Ukrainian Movie of the Year award. With the video clip to the song Znaju ya (I Know), which is about the ancient people of the Hutsuls living in the Ukrainian Carpathians, Ruslana set new standards for modern video clip filming.