A star in her native Ukraine for many years, Ruslana became her homeland's biggest musical export after storming to victory in the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest. Born Ruslana Stepanivna Lyzhychko in Lviv in 1973, she attended an experimental music school at the age of four and fronted various bands in her teens before graduating as a conductor and classical pianist from the Lviv Conservatory.
After winning the Slavyanskiy Bazar song competition in 1996, she worked on her own Christmas TV special and recorded her debut album, Myt' Vesny: Dzvinkyj Viter, with producer Oleksandr Ksenofontov, followed by 2001's Najkrashche. Inspired by her father's Hutsuls heritage, her third release, Dyki Tantsi was a concept album, fusing traditional ethnic instruments with contemporary dance rhythms, of which the self-composed title track was chosen to represent the Ukraine at the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest. Ruslana received 280 points, and was voted for by all but one of the 25 participating countries, making her the country's first Eurovision winner on only her second attempt.
Consolidating her newfound European success, she recorded her first English-language album, Wild Dances: Welcome to My World, released a collection of remixes entitled Club'in, and toured Germany to support the Ukraine football team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Influenced by Maryna & Serhiy Dyachenko's science-fiction novel, Wild Energy, Lana, her fourth album, was recorded in Ukrainian and English, and featured collaborations with T.I. and Missy Elliott. A well-known political activist, Ruslana lent her track "Dance with the Wolves" to the Orange Revolution, and was appointed Good Will Ambassador of Ukraine by UNICEF. She continued to record both Ukrainian-language and English-language albums during the late 2000s and 2010s, including 2008's Amazonka and Wild Energy, 2012's Eyforiya, and 2013's Miy Brat! and My Boo! (Together!). ~ Jon O'Brien