Sally Army enters Eurovision

10 May 2013

SRF/OSCAR ALLESIO

THERE are varied motivations for representing one's country in the Eurovision Song Contest: a first shot at fame, patriotism, the resurrection of an ailing career. For Sarah Breiter, the vocalist in the Swiss entry this year, it's "to sing to the world about the love of God".

Joining Ms Breiter on stage in Malmö, Sweden, next Tuesday, will be five other members of the Salvation Army, who together have formed "Takasa". The name, which means "purity" in Swahili, was created after the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organises the annual contest, ruled that the group would not be able to appear as "The Salvation Army" ("Heilsarmee") or wear the uniform. EBU regulations prohibit performances that "promote commercial or non-commercial brands".

In December, the Salvation Army's head of marketing and communications, Martin Künzi, said that changing the group's name and uniform would "disrupt the concept"; but in March the organisation announced that the changes had been made in order to comply with regulations "without belying itself as a Christian organisation". The band would offer "pure musical enjoyment that also implies spirituality".

The group won a national competition to find the country's Eurovision entry with the song "You and Me". Katharina Hauri, who plays the drum, described it as "a parable about how we serve in the Salvation Army. . . We are all here for each other."

The oldest member, Emil Ramsauer, aged 95, who plays the double bass and electric guitar, has been playing music with the Salvation Army since the age of ten, including a spell in England during the Second World War.

Christoph Jackob, on vocals, admitted that "some people may be quite perplexed" by the band's involvement in the competition: "A lot of people still find us antiquated . . . We want to show them that the Salvation Army can also be in, modern and provactive."

The semi-final of this year's contest is on Tuesday, before the final the following Saturday.

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