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Meet Sanja Ilić and Balkanika from Serbia!

This year 43 countries will be present at this years Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Lisbon in May. With around two weeks to go until all of Europe descends on Portugal's capital, Eurovoxx will introduce you to each country that will be participating.

Who are Sanja Ilić and Balkanika?

Aleksander "Sanja" Ilić is a Serbian composer, keyboardist and architect born on March 27 1951 in Belgrade, Serbia. He is one of the most successful composers in the former Yugoslavia, having written music for many movies, and theater shows, and picking up many awards along the way. In 1971, Sanja joined the popular Serbian band "San" as a keyboardist, where he remained a member until 1975.

Aside from Music, Sanja is also an architect, having graduated from the University of Belgrade Faculty of Architecture.

This is not the first time that Sanja has been connected with Eurovision; In 1976, he composed the song "Baj baj baj" which was sung by Bisera Veletanlić at Jugovisija, Yugoslavia's national selection for Eurovision 1976. In 1982, he composed the song "Halo, Halo" that was performed by Aska at Eurovision that same year, and in 1984, he composed the song "Princeza" for Eurovision, but failed to make it to the national selection.

Sanja founded the group "Balkanika" in 1998 and they performed their first concert together in 2000. They have since gone onto perform many concerts around the world.

The group are very popular in Serbia with their modernisation of Serbian medieval and byzantine music. The group consists of ten musicians, however, not all of them will be present at Eurovision 2018.

Check out Serbia's Eurovision 2018 entry below:

How were Sanja Ilić and Balkanika chosen?

Sanja Ilić and Balkanika were one of 17 acts to take part in Beozivija, Serbia's live televised national final for Eurovision 2018. There was a mix of 50% televote and 50% jury vote, with Sanja Ilić and Balkanika receiving the maximum 12 points from both voting parties, thus winning the ticket to Lisbon with their song "Nova Deca" (New Generation).

Serbia in Eurovision

Serbia made their Eurovision debut as Serbia and Montenegro in 2004, finishing in 2nd place, only 17 points behind winners Ukraine. Serbia and Montenegro returned in 2005, and after a break in 2006, they were back in 2007 as an independent Serbia. They managed to win the 2007 contest with Marija Serifovic's "Molitva", being one of only two countries to win Eurovision on their debut year (the first being Switzerland in 1956).

Since their debut in 2007, they have had a lot of success in Eurovision, achieving 4 top 10 placings out of 10 participations. They have managed to qualify to the final every year except for 2009 and 2017. Despite finishing in 10th place in the 2009 semi final, they did not make it to the final due to the rules at the time that stated only the top 9 would qualify and the 10th country would be decided by a wildcard.

Check out our reaction video below:

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