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LONDON – British musical impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber has argued that racism, particularly in Eastern European countries, has affected the annual Eurovision Song Contest.
He partly blamed the U.K.’s recent weak record in the competition on it.
In an interview with Radio Times, the 64-year-old discussed the recent string of disappointments at the European singing competition with such acts as Javine Hylton, Andy Abraham, Jade Ewen and boyband Blue. Lloyd Webber co-wrote the U.K. song performed by Jade in 2009, which came in fifth.
The musical producer said he was asked that year in host city Moscow “why have you brought a black artist?” He said his reply was: “Because she is the most talented artist that we had, and I think she’s a major, major star.”
Asked if racism was the reason that Britain did not win in 2009, Lloyd Webber emphasized though: “Well, it doesn’t mean that we would necessarily have won that year, but we could have come second.”
Asked more broadly about the Eurovision Song Contest, Lloyd Webber said: “I don’t think there’s any point beating around the bush…If you had seen it [this year], you might have noticed one thing – I don’t think there was one black face on the program.”
He suggested that Eastern European countries are the real challenge. “If you’re talking about Western Europe – Germany, fine; France, fine; Spain, fine; Greece, fine; Scandinavian countries, fine,” he said. “But Ukraine? Not so good.”
This year’s Eurovision had results that run counter to any racism allegations. Swedish singer Loreen, who is of Moroccan-Berber origin, won. U.K. entry Engelbert Humperdinck came in second-to-last.
A BBC spokesperson said that the British public broadcaster doesn’t see a racism problem in Eastern Europe or beyond. “The BBC is committed to Eurovision and has no evidence whatsoever of any racism around the event,” the representative said.
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