The first Canadian to sing for Switzerland in the Eurovision Song Contest was Celine Dion in 1988 – and she won.
Now another, Rykka – real name Christina Maria Rieder – is hoping to do the same.
Born in Canada and singing in English (Dion sang in a Swiss national language – French), at first glance the 30-year-old may not seem a likely candidate to represent the alpine country. But in fact she has a long connection with Switzerland that goes back to her very conception.
“I was made in Adelboden!” she tells The Local with a laugh. “My mum and dad lived there before I was born for a year. So somehow I feel like I’m really connected to it.”
Born in Vancouver, Rykka had a Swiss grandfather and grew up among the city’s Swiss community.
“I was raised Swiss but in Canada. I had a lot of Swiss people around and all the traditions,” she says.
“It was so strong. My brother was a schwinger [a Swiss wrestler] and everyone wore traditional costume.
“When I came to Switzerland it didn’t feel Swiss enough. I was raised Swisser than everybody else!”
She first visited the country as a teenager, and then returned six years ago, eventually meeting her husband – a Swiss – in Zurich.
Signed to a label in Lucerne, Rykka released an album in Switzerland in 2010 and then started to play local festivals in the country.
After initially cultivating a folk sound, her latest release is more of a pop album, as is the ballad ‘The Last of Our Kind’ which she co-wrote especially for Eurovision.
Describing herself as “so competitive”, Rykka is confident she’ll do well in Stockholm and isn’t dwelling on the statistics, which don’t bode well for Switzerland’s entry.
Despite winning it in 1988 and way back in 1956 – the very first Eurovision, which was hosted by Switzerland – the country hasn’t done too well of late.
Story continues below…
Since the semifinal round was introduced in 2004 Switzerland has only made it through to the final four times, and of those it came last in 2011.
“I feel fine about it. I’m pretty positive,” Rykka tells The Local.
“I visualize a lot and if I do something then I have to go all the way so I am visualizing myself winning.”
The Eurovision Song Contest 2016 will be held in Stockholm on 10-14 May.