After ‘American Idol,’ This Singer Is Moving to an Even Bigger Stage: Eurovision 2024

Nutsa Buzaladze received raves from the American Idol judges when she competed last year on season 21 of the long-running television talent series. Eliminated from the top 12 on April 30, 2023, the singer from the nation of Georgia didn’t sit still. This week she will perform on another televised song contest when she represents her country in the Eurovision Song Contest, which normally reaches a worldwide audience in the hundreds of millions.

One year after interviewing Nutsa in Hollywood during her time on Idol, Billboard sat down with her again, this time in Malmö, Sweden, to talk about her life since then and what will be the biggest moment of her career so far.

When we talked last year in California, I suggested you sing for Georgia in Eurovision, and here you are. What have the last 12 months been like for you?

First of all, American Idol was the biggest thing I’ve done in my life. They gave me an open door to new opportunities. Like Lionel [Richie] said to me, “It doesn’t matter what number, you’re a star.” American Idol was a starter for my international career. Being on Idol makes your life much easier because people look at you and say you’re the real deal. I have an agent in America and he had me perform the National Anthem at a Lakers game and a Dodgers game. I had an amazing summer living in Miami and was in the Hamptons for a weekend when a producer [with Georgia’s national broadcaster] called and said, “Nutsa, we are thinking of having you represent your country at Eurovision. When are you coming to Georgia?”

So you said yes to Eurovision?

I told them I only had one condition: I’m going to be involved with every little detail. And they said, “Yes, for sure. We want you to be at your best. We want you to sing the song that you love to sing.” So I had the freedom to be myself and not someone that they want me to be and that is the greatest thing they’ve done for me. And it’s coming from the director of the broadcast.

You’re singing “Firefighter” as the Georgian entry. Who found the song?

We had an open call. We received amazing songs, and we listened to all 300 of them. We had three favorites, and we chose one that I feel very confident in. “Firefighter” was from Darko Dimitrov, a Macedonian producer who has a lot of experience in Eurovision. The writer of the lyrics was Ada Skitka from Estonia. I really loved the song, but only the chorus. I flew from Miami to Macedonia, and we spent three days in the studio finishing the song. It was a very creative process.

What does representing Georgia in Eurovision mean to you?

I have loved my country ever since I was a very little girl. Because of my country’s history and our people, I want to make them proud. I want to show the world how great Georgia is and how many talented people we have. We are a very small nation and that makes me more motivated to put Georgia on the map everywhere I can. Because especially in America, they think that Georgia is a state.

You competed on Idol and now you’re competing again in Eurovision. What are your thoughts about the competition?

I don’t really think of it as a competition, to be honest. I do it for my career and I do it to become better and to have more experience, because all my life I wanted to have a career where you can go everywhere and sing everywhere. Not only in my country, but everywhere. I think big competitions give you the possibilities to be heard by millions and millions of people and that’s the main reason I’m doing it. I don’t like to compete with anybody. The only person I’m competing with always is myself, because I always want to do something bigger and better.

What was the main lesson you learned during your run on American Idol?

On American Idol, I realized that I had done hard work before, but Idol is the hardest work. I pushed myself to the limits. When I was in my hotel room, I cried because I was so exhausted from the emotions. By the time we were doing the live shows, it was better. I became friends with the contestants and then I became friends with the crew.

What are your plans for your career after Eurovision?

My new single is coming out on May 12. I shot a music video before flying to Malmö. The song is called “Mother’s Day” and I’m releasing it on Mother’s Day. It’s about my mom and she is in the music video with me. I’m sure a lot of people are going to cry because I love my mother very much and I wanted to have a song about her.

What else lies ahead?

There is other news I haven’t told anybody, so I’ve saved it for Billboard. I’ve been invited to audition for Broadway on May 11 [the same day as Eurovision]. So I need to go to New York as soon as possible for that.

Can you tell me for what show?

I don’t think they want me to. It’s a modern musical. The character that they want me to play is very near to who I am in real life and the voice of that character in the songs is my style.

Nutsa Buzaladze will sing “Firefighter” in the first semi-final of the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest on Tuesday (May 7) in Malmö, Sweden. The live broadcast can be seen in the U.S. on Peacock at 3 p.m. ET. If “Firefighter” is one of 10 songs from the 15 semi-final entries that qualifies for the grand final, she will perform the song again on Saturday (May 11). That four-hour show will be seen on Peacock, also at 3 p.m. ET.

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