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Switzerland is at the top of the European class

JLB Malmo 5

When it comes to the blues, Switzerland is at the top of the European class – thanks to Justina Lee Brown

Even in the hour of success, Justina Lee Brown, who was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and grew up in poor conditions, remains humble: “I am incredibly happy with what we have achieved. Happy and grateful to the people who have welcomed us and our music so well. I’m in no way disappointed that I didn’t take the first place.”

The requirements were not easy. Each band was only given 20 minutes to convince the international jury of musicians, radio broadcasters, journalists, and bookers of their skills. Among 23 formations from just as many countries, the Swiss sextet stood out with its exciting mix of blues, funk, soul, and African influences. Only the young Dutch Harlem Lake Band managed to outperform our Swiss participants.

At this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, things didn’t really work out that well. The Swiss representatives did all the better at the European blues competition. Singer Justina Lee Brown and her band earned second place at the 10th European Blues Challenge in Malmö with a crackling, emotional performance. The band with Nic Niedermann (guitar), Angelo Signore (keyboards), Thom Wettstein (bass), Christof Jaussi (drums) and David Stauffacher (percussion) mastered the task professionally. Of course, it wasn’t. Justina Lee Brown: «It was stressful to start straight away without a sound check. And I don’t really like being limited. I need space and time on stage to be able to express myself.

Finally, Justina Lee Brown points out the nature of the competition: “The conditions are the same for everyone. We enjoyed it. The Challenge is a wonderful platform for bringing musicians from different countries together. It’s about creativity, musicality, songwriting, originality, instrumental skill, etc. And the opportunity for the participants to exchange ideas with each other was fantastic. The European Blues Challenge is not about big money, clicks or sales figures. The music is central. We are proud of our second place because almost half of the bands played sensationally. To witness and be a part of how many people have enjoyed sharing this music after this Covid period was balm for the soul”.

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