The crooner is also an activist. Sobral draws attention to the European refugee crisis at the Eurovision semi-final winners’ press conference
wearing an ‘S.O.S.Refugees’ shirt: “If I have European
exposure, the least I can do is a humanitarian
message,” he said, earning a
round of applause
By Rose Maramba
Able to join just half of the rehearsals, the 27-year old Portuguese Salvador Sobral won the Eurovision Song Festival held in Kyiv last May. For the very first time since Portugal debuted in Europe’s premier song contest in 1964, it was the winner, thereby salvaging its badly battered ego. The country had the embarrassing longest winless record in the history of Eurovision whose first contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland, in 1956 with only seven countries participating.
Sobral placed Portugal at the top of the long list of participating countries in 2017, 43 in all, a record high. He scored a stunning 758 points, the highest score ever in Eurovision’s current voting system, walking off with the jury vote and the televote.
But he was very sick. With the Eurovision organizers consenting, his sister Lucia stood in for him for the entire technical rehearsals. He could only rehearse for the semi-finals. This charismatic crooner and jazz musician, who descends from Hermano José Braamcamp de Almeida Castelo-Branco (1775-1846), 5th Lord, 2nd Baron, 1st Viscount and 1st Count of Sobral, 5th Lord of the Majorat of Sobral, 3rd Lord of the Majorat of Luz, etc., is suffering from severe heart condition which has grown worse after Eurovision; there were just too many hectic concert tours he couldn’t turn down.
The Spanish and Portuguese media are reporting that only a heart transplant could save him now.
Sobral the singer holds a special place in Spain’s heart. In 2011 he came to Majorca as an Erasmus student. What should have furthered his studies in Phycology pushed his budding musical career a notch higher instead. He was no complete stranger to the music scene in Portugal (he was a finalist in Idolos, the Portuguese TV show based on Britain’s Pop Idol). Being that, he was soon doing singing gigs at the bars and hotels on the Balearic island. More seriously, he enrolled in the prestigious Taller de Musics in Barcelona to polish up his voice.
Achieving what amounted to the status of national hero after bagging the Eurovision trophy, Sobral would now have made it really big as a pop star in his country. In fact he was and despite cancellations of his concerts he still is. The communique on Sobral’s official Facebook page dated 29 August 2017 says: “Following medical advice, Salvador Sobral will not be able to fulfil the professional commitments scheduled for the next few days. [He] will have to stop his activity for a few days to control his health condition. Thus, we inform you that the scheduled concerts for Festival F in Faro (Excuse Me, 31/08 and Alexander Search, 01/09) and Anadia (02/09) will be canceled. The new dates for the show will be announced soon.”
But there are no foreseeable new dates on the cards. His show at the Festival Internacional de Cultura at the Casino Estoril in Cascais on 9 September was a farewell concert though he claims it’s only “a temporary goodbye”, an Até Já (See You in a Little While) concert. “I have a problem,” he says on Facebook. “It is, unfortunately, time to hand over my body to science and to abandon my life of concerts and music; time to leave this civilian world for a while and go to another where, certainly, my problem will be fixed.”
The gardens of the Casino swayed to, and rang out with, the sweet melody of “Amar Pelos Dois (Eurovision translation: Love for the Both of Us)”, the song that was written and composed by his sister and won the Eurovision contest. Luisa, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, joined him on the stage at the Estoril, as she did on that memorable night in Kyiv. Thousands of spectators sang along with an emotional and visibly weakened Sobral. Até Já was an emotive concert during which Sobral cried but he also made his fans laugh. When the tears kept him from going on, the audience pitched in and sang to him.
Eurofan Spain commented on You Tube: “Get well soon, Salvador. Portugal is really proud of you, so are the Spanish eurofans. I remember that magical night last May, full of joy and happiness, I was celebrating the Portuguese victory as if it was my country that had won, and all thanks to you and your beautiful and moving song. I want you to recover as soon as possible and see you back on stage. See you in Lisbon.” (Eurovision 2018 will be held in the Portuguese capital.)
His legions of fans all around Europe are standing by him. And he wrote on Instagram quoting the Beatles: “I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.”
That’s what they want and need to hear from him. Especially these days when his health has deteriorated alarmingly he had to be rushed to Emergency at the Hospital de Santa Cruz in Lisbon, according to OKDIARIO, a top Spanish online newspaper.
Update 9 October 2017
According to Portuguese media Sobral has left the ICU and been transferred to a high-dependency room, his condition having improved slightly, thereby allowing the transfer. He is still top-priority in the waiting list for heart transplant.
Featured image/Serecki, CC BY-SA 4.0
Flag of Portugal, PD
Salvador and Luisa Sobral on red carpet/Mykola Swarnyk, CC BY-SA3.0
Excuse Me, Salvador Sobral’s Facebook timeline photo, Fair Use
Até Já concert, Salvador Sobral’s Facebook timeline photo, Fair Use
Beatles album, Fair Use