Paula Seling (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈpa.ula ˈseliŋɡ], born 25 December 1978, in Baia Mare) is a Romanian singer, radio DJ, and a coach from television music competition franchise X Factor, Season 1.
She has released more than thirteen albums (including three Christmas albums) and over twenty singles, including two top-ten hits in the Romanian Top 100, a minor European hit which entered the charts in Finland and Norway, as well as the UK Singles Chart, and a good position on the worldwide chart of popularity by the name of Starcount, that analysed fans concern about artists from all over the world.
Paula is trilingual and speaks, writes and performs in French, English and Romanian; in addition she performs in Italian. She has also provides the Romanian voices in Cars 2, for Holley Shiftwell. She is an outspoken supporter of personal freedoms, individual rights and human rights.
She represented Romania in the Eurovision Song Contest 2010, together with Ovidiu Cernăuțeanu, with the song "Playing with Fire". They finished third in the final. She then participated in Dansez Pentru Tine (Romanian Dancing with the Stars) where she finished third. From October 2011, Seling was a juror and mentor in the Romanian X Factor. In 2011 she collaborated with Al Bano and Plan D. In 2011/2012 she sang a song called "I'll Show You" with Alexander Rybak. The song, written by Rybak, premiere on 30 May 2012.
In 2012, she was chosen by Walt Disney to record the song "My Spirit Flies" ("Chiar pot zbura"), for the Pixar Academy Award winning animation Brave.
Paula Seling, who has a brother called Paul, was born in Baia Mare on 25 December 1978. After graduating from the Gheorghe Şincai National College in June 1997, she studied journalism in Bucharest, graduating in 2002.
She has been playing piano since she was 6 years old, studying at the "School of Performing Arts" with Mariana Tilca. At the age of 10, she began to sing in the school choir, soon becoming a soloist, and at the age of 15, she joined a band, the "Enders", as a piano player.
In 1995, she won the Best Instrumental Interpreter award at the “Steaua de cristal” (The Crystal Star) Contest in Botoșani, “Ursulețul de aur” (The Golden Teddy Bear) award in Baia Mare, and the first place at the "Armonia" (Harmony) Festival in Bucharest. That year she met Paul Nanca of the Phoenix Cultural Foundation and most of her musician friends who are still with her today.
In 1996, she won, under the guidance of Anda Popp, the "Aurelian Andreescu" trophy, and she had her first performance at the "Golden Stag", in the show “Viața de român” (Romanian life) as a backup vocalist.
Then, in the same show, she was invited to sing "When the Winter Comes" by herself.
In 1997, she opened for Joan Baez, participated in the Mamaia Trophy with the song "Trurli" a Romanian song, and released her first album in English, "Only Love", recorded at Sound House Records, Germany; then sang in the show "Din darul magilor" (From the Magi's Gift) in December 1997.
Music career 1998–2008
Paula Seling competed in the Selectia Nationala 1998 along with the band Talisman with the song "Te iubesc". They managed to end up fourth (with 565 points), as they were the second favorites for the jurors and the sixth favorites for televoters. The special jury considered their song the most suitable for the Eurovision Song Contest 1998.
Seling competed in the Mamaia Festival 2001 with her performance of "Ploaie în Luna lui Marte" (a cover of Nicu Alifantis' older hit). Then, she received national recognition after winning the Golden Stag Festival in 2002.
Seling was signed to Roton Records in the fall of 2002, after winning The Golden Stag International trophy. In 2003 she won an MTV Romanian Award for "Best Music Video", for a video which she co-directed. In early 2005 she launched her own record label, "Unicorn Records Romania", along with her father and brother. She has sung duets with Al Bano, Anita Doth (from 2 Unlimited) and Tony Hawks. She has performed as an opening act for Joan Baez (27 June 1997), Chick Corea (9 November 1998), Michael Bolton (7 July 2007), and Beyoncé (26 October 2007). In 2008, she performed a song together with manele singer Florin Salam at the Bucharest Symphonic Orchestra. The show host described their performance as a reconciliation between manele and mainstream pop music; in the same respect, the song's lyrics raised the problem of ethnic intolerance.
The first step in the world of music
Paula Seling decided to perform rock, jazz, jazz-rock, soul, rhythm and blues and more, but unfortunately she didn't realize how big that goal was. At the time, unplugged music became popular so Paula suggested to people at the Phoenix Foundation that they work together to add this sort of music to an album.
Dana Cristescu had the idea to involve Nicu Alifantis with composing and producing this album. Seling remembers that he offered her some songs to be recorded in the beginning. Therefore, she chose "Ploaie în Luna lui Marte", to be the first track.
Paula remembers clearly "all the bright eyes looking at me kindly as I was looking out to the audience and hundreds of voices were singing with me "ploouuaaa infernaaaal" and "noooi ne iubeaaam..." it's an amazing feeling. It was nice to see people happy and enjoying my music! "
The first album and Ploaie în Luna lui Marte success
The song eventually got to George Zafiu, DJ at Radio 21, who started to broadcast it on his shows." After many requests, Paula's team agreed to record the first album in Romanian named Ştiu că exist/ "I know I exist" and “Colinde și Cantece Sfinte” (Christmas carols and Holy songs) with the Romanian singer-songwriter Narcisa Suciu. It represents the best of her musical self study at that time.
At the same time, Paula won the "Ascending Star" award by Avantaje magazine.
On 9 November in the same year she performed at the opening of Chick Corea's concert in Bucharest. The project that came after the concert involving her with the percussionist Lucian Maxim and it was a fusion of jazz with classical music and old Romanian gypsy music found in the traditional remakes of Marius Mihalache.
A new album was ready to be released in 1999, called "De dragoste" (For Love) that gathered ten songs composed by Nicu Alifantis. It is the first complete album that she had released, with songs such as "Almost Silence"/"Aproape liniște"; "The Shadow"/"Umbra"; "How Good Cause You Are"/"Ce bine că ești".
Nicu Alifantis was influential with her career direction. "Ploaie în luna lui Marte" brought her an award "The Hit of the Year" at the Mamaia Festival in the same year. After all this Paula took a break, while she was trying to find her way in life and in her music. "I wanted to sing but I also wanted to give real attention to the courses I had registered for."
Eventually Seling started to write music and lyrics, with her brother, Paul Seling. They started to plan an album that would mark a change in her music, a change of attitude, music and sound.
Performances and music videos
In January 2001 Paula released "Mă voi întoarce" (I’ll be back), a special album, calm and gentle, with winter songs. The song "Lângă mine" (Next to me),which was a duet with the band Direcția 5, more precisely with Cristi Enache and it was also included in their album.
They worked on the album until the fall of 2001. Paul and Paula succeeded to mostly finalize the album and they decided to include Cezar Stănciulescu and Cristi Ştefănescu, members of the Band, NSK. This two were excellent guys to work with, they were, as Paula says : "artists with brilliant ideas about music, that considerably improved the album and its sound". It was the first album in which all the lyrics were written only by Paula. The title of the album was "Știi ce înseamnă (să fii fericit)" (You know what it means (to be happy)), and encompass songs lile "Promise"/"Promit", one of the most known songs of Paula, that was available in Romanian, and in English, as well. Also in 2001, a truly tense year, Paula released the album " Prima selecție " (First selection), a song collection from concerts, duets and remakes of some of her best songs. In the same period, our teen star, worked with an artist that she found very interesting: Puya from La Familia. They arrived earlier at the studio where she was recording a song with strong message and Puya had not found a female vocalist yet. The song seemed very good to Paula's abilities and she offered to record it with him.
The song named "Fii pregătit" (Be ready) was released and was very popular so a few weeks later, they were presenting it in a performance from Mamaia. As 2001 finish, Seling received The Award for the best female singer within the Awards of the Romanian Music Industries. It was very important, because it proved to her that he was on the right track with his music and his performances. After that, Paula also had the opportunity to cooperate with one of the best directors from Romania, Andreea Păduraru, for the music video of the song "Serile verii" (Summer evenings) (of the album "You know what it means"/"Știi ce înseamnă").
Remarkably the music video was filmed under the water, and at the middle of the video, Paula recite: We wait, each of us, with our soul sit back by our body and by each of our words/Our shadows are laying to the world, and we wait for their dead in the darkness, with terraces, and songs.... . This music video in turn brought for our celebrity, the award for the best artist in a Music Video, and the award for the best Music Video on the MTV Music Awards Romania 2002. Yes, we can say it very loud: 2002, was for Paula's career, the passage to "professionalism".
Later on, Paula thought she was artistically experienced enough to try to prepare herself for the Golden Stag Festival, where she present two of her songs: "Noapte caldă" (Warm Night) and "That old devil called love". This festival had, in a way, a certain kind of fairy tale fragrance, it represented a symbol of the passage to "professionalism" for the artist, it was a test for her music career, maybe also because, for many years, she was watching it with her parents, and they were prognosticating about possible winners, they were granting qualifications and mainly, she was dreaming.
The event called for two songs to be performed. The first song was only piano and vocalist. She walked out on the stage with her eyes closed, rehearsing what she had previously prepared. Paula was a little bit scared but was very excited. Then she sat on the chairman. With determination and "feeling", this girl performed the first few notes ... and nothing! The piano did not work! She felt like crying, she had no idea what to do, she could not believe what was happening. On the day of the contest the piano had decided to quit. Paula was just about to give up when she though maybe somehow they forgot to turn on, remembered just in time that there was a power switch. "I reach over and switched it on and I had such an emotional start that it improved my "performance", I made it through and I won the most important award in my life."
Another thing that Paula remember from Brașov was on the day of the festivity, when everybody was full of excitement and pressure, then, she met a journalist who do an interview about the contest. They sat around a table, and, with an attitude of self-confidence, he told her: "Look: We are going to make this interview work by pretending that you do not know about winning of the award..." In that moment all that Paula wants was to win this award so much but she didn't dare hope she was getting it. She also did not want to find out, not yet wanted to hear it when it was announced that evening, while sitting alone with her thoughts and her prayers, in the first row in front of the stage. The evening was incredible, she remember: " The Scorpions, one of my favorite bands since I was a child, was invited to Brașov to close the Golden Stag Festival with a performance. Well, they invited me on the stage and dedicated the most wonderful song – Still Loving You. At that time, I cried, It was incredible!".
Seling and international collaborations
This year, 2002, was for Seling, an international opportunity indeed: was herself, in the TV series documentary Open House, in the episode dated on 20 February 2002; also she had a very interesting experience, being a fairy tale character in a story about making a music hit somewhere, in the world. Tony Hawks, producer, composer, director and writer proposed himself to cast a documentary movie on the Discovery Channel, a movie, named "One Hit Wonderland", that reveals to the audience the recipe for the success of a song. He picked Paula as a study subject in Romania, they recorded a song, his composition, in his studio from London and then, the city started promoting it.
The whole story took off and they performed it on Gloria Hunniford's show on Channel 5 in London. Then Paula and Tony went to club Kashmir, famous for many British star debuts, where together with her band Paula performed her songs, and the show was broadcast on the internet, also. A new award come to Paula's treasury, awards at FIDOF international festivals in Cesme, Turkey, Skopje; Macedonia, LA VALETTA–Malta.
2003 year brought Seling a management agreement with a French producer. She worked intensely to compose, orchestrate and record an album for the French market. The album that consisted of songs in French and English was recorded in Paris. Unfortunately the album could not be completed but Paula got to see France, so all was not lost. In the same year, the singer released the most "consistent" album, so far it had 17 songs and it was called "Fara sfârșit" (Endless). On the same album was the song "Timpul"(La radio se-anunță ploi)/ Time (Rains are announced on the Radio) whose music video was completed in Venice by another director of exception – Dragoș Buliga, and it has 2.297.821 views on YouTube, becoming her emblem song After dark comes new clouds, so, after was nominated in 2004 for MTV Music Awards as the best artist for the same song (Time), in 2005 ring the wedding bells, for Paula, and a handsome man, Radu Bucura; they were doing everything together, furthermore they opened a production studio, UNICORN RECORDS where the word working was to the fore, they want to do their best for music.
In 2005 was a year of celebration, cause Paula "solemnize" 10 years from her debut. Ten years from her first performance at the Golden Stag Festival 1996. They seemed to pass in a moment and looking back, she feel that each second was great. "Every joy, every tear, every song recorded and every moment of comfort and loneliness had its own role." Paula remember with all of her heart this moment : "I can especially remember what I felt when the entire audience in the Sică Alexandrescu theatre hall sang together with me, with my band and the Orchestra, in the anniversary concert that took place on 1 June 2006, remembering with each song, moments of the past 10 years."
The next year, 2006 was the time for a new album in Paula's opinion, by the same token, because this year ended in a great way, Radu and the star was released a special album called "De sarbatori" /"For Holidays" with traditional Christmas carols and sacred songs of Paula.
2007 came with three of the most important events of Paula's career : opening act for Michael Bolton in Brașov on 7 July and for Beyoncé in Cluj on 22 October. The same year sge had the pleasure of meeting Anita Doth, a member of the band 2 Unlimited with whom she sang a duet on the stage of Callatis – a festival in a beautiful seaside resort called Mangalia. "It was an amazing experience, I had the chance to know her better, talk a lot, sing a lot and I realised she is a great and warm person, a special and powerful voice." The interesting fact is that they recorded together the song "If you want it" the English version of "Noapte caldă" which she wrote together with her brother back in 2001.
Al Bano choose Paula Seling
The year 2008 started with a great achievement – Paula had the chance to sing in duet with Al Bano in Iași. Al Bano was definitely a great musician, a wonderful man and a special personality, so Paula was lucky to have met him and to have shared the stage with "The Maestro" for five times already, and each time was a joy and a blessing for her. Later that year Seling and her team, decided to make a "Best of", sort of a compilation with the most important songs of the 10 years of her musical career, includes 19 tracks, some of them with their original orchestration, some of them with a new production redone in Unicorn Records studio. The album was called "1998–2008".
The same year, on 22 December – very close to Seling's birthday – The National Journal produced an album of her with 23 Holyday songs that sold in almost 100.000 copies in few hours. That was the best present that her listeners could give her that year, for her birthday. Also, in the same year she took the 3rd Place, National Selection Eurovision Final with the song "Seven Days".
Her most recent studio album is Culeg Vise/Believe, released in 2009. The first single from this album is "Believe" and it reached the top 40 of Romanian Top 100. The official launch of "Believe" was on 10 June 2009 at Siver Church Club, in Bucharest. From August to December 2009 she was on tour in Canada and Western Europe. She took part in the 2009 Golden Stag Festival, in September, as a judge, where she met her collaborator Ovidiu Cernăuţeanu.
Eurovision Song Contest 2010
After the Golden Stag festival Ovi, who won her vote at the contest, suggested to Seling that they should perform together in the future. She accepted and Ovi called her back in November, inviting her to participate together at the 2010 Selectia Nationala. They re-recorded the original version of the song and signed up for pre-selection. They were selected as a finalist for the Romanian selection show on 27 January 2010 and won the competition on 6 March 2010.
Seling and Ovi performed "Playing with Fire" live in the second Eurovision Song Contest 2010 semi-final, in Oslo on 27 May 2010. They qualified from the semi-final and competed in final on 29 May 2010. They finished in 3rd place. This is the second time that Romania have achieved this, their highest placing, in the Eurovision Song Contest.
2010: After Eurovision
She and Ovi will continue promoting their Eurovision song in Romania and Europe. Seling is also planning to release a new album in some time. The duo released another two songs on YouTube: "We got something" and "Counting down".
In 2010, she was in a Romanian dance competition, " Dansez pentru tine "(the Romanian version of Dancing With the Stars), with her partner Tudor Moldoveanu. The pair peaked at 3rd place in the competition. Seling was the co-host of the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 Romanian national final, held on New Year's Eve night on TVR 1, along with Ovi and Marina Almasan-Socaciu.
That night she sang her newest single, entitled "Counting Down". She had also performed the song "Happy New Year" (originally by ABBA) with former Eurovision participants Chiara Siracusa and Niamh Kavanagh. She was ranked at No. 1 in the "Romanian Best Female Voices Alive" top improved by Billboard Romania, advancing one place, because of the death of Mădălina Manole. She is followed by Andra and Nicola. In February 2011, Seling was named the "Best Female Voice" by the Romanian public. She is followed by Andra and Inna. Also, in the same year, she appears on the cover of a famous Romanian magazine called InStyle.
New album and X Factor
In early 2011 Seling released a new song entitled "I Feel Free". The song features a more groovy sound more common in Romania in latter years. The music video was shot in Paris, France. The song has only been sent to certain radio stations and it only gained plays from UTV channel.
In April 2011 Romanian TV station Antena 1 (part of the Intact Media Group) announced that the British—concept reality/musical contest show X Factor will come to Romania as well. In early June it was announced that Seling was to be one of three judges of the contest. Along with Radio DJ Mihai Morar and singer-songwriter Adrian Sînă (frontman of dance, pop band Akcent) she toured Romania all summer long to find those who have The X Factor within them. It was announced that she was to mentor the "Groups" category. She was helped by Alexander Ryback to select the final four acts to enter the live galas in fall 2011.
She elected boy duo Refresh, mix-duo Duo Voice, all-girl band X-treme and T&L. The latter got to the semi-final becoming Seling's longest-lasting band in the contest. On Christmas Day which is also Paula's birthday, she performed a medley of her hits "Timpul" and her rendition of the Christmas carol "Colindăm, colindăm... (Iarna)" from Romanian folklore. Even though being the only judge with no mentored acts in the grand final of the first season she is to return as a judge for the second season of X Factor (Romania) in 2012.
Seling recorded duets with Alexander Ryback, Ovi and Al Bano in late 2011 to be put together alongside "I Feel Free" and other at least eight songs on a new material due in 2012. In February 2012 it was announced that Seling will be returning to Selectia Nationala 2012, in order to represent Romania in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. Even though, she said the song she prepared for the contest wasn't ready and promised a comeback for Eurovision Song Contest 2013.
She was the spokesperson for Romania and presented their votes during the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. In 2013 was delegate to be the endorser for a notorious Romanian moisturising cream, Gerovital, a scope with edelweiss-rich extract, in a godson fondling green-white combination of colours, without preserving. As well a new accession to office for Paula's image, start in the same year, when the famous brand Loncolor, propose Paula to become their endorser, the celebrity representing LONCOLOR enVogue 535, a good choice of hair shade for every woman.
Eurovision Song Contest 2014
On 1 March 2014, Paula Seling and Ovi won the Romanian national selection Selecția Națională 2014 and were selected as the Romanian entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen with the song "Miracle".
Seling and Ovi performed "Miracle" live in the second Eurovision Song Contest 2014 semi-final, in Copenhagen, on 8 May 2014. They qualified from the semi-final and competed in final on 10 May 2010, where they finished on #12.
On 24 May 2014, Paula Seling was awarded most beautiful entrant at the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in the internet poll by Eurovision blog Wiwibloggs. Paula obtained about 30,000 votes in the poll, becoming ”Eurovision Next Top Model 2014”. In second place was Irish Kasey Smith, and third Dutch Ilse DeLange. She won the award in 2010 as well
Personal life and beliefs
Paula has been married since 2005 to Radu Bucura, a friend from her teenage years, and the drummer in Dana Nalbaru's band. She is a Romanian Orthodox and is also pro-life. She attended the March for Life, in Bucharest, in March 2016.
Awards and nominations
|2002||Golden Stag Festival||Golden Stag Trophy||Won|
|Romanian Musical Industry Awards||Best Female||Won|
|MTV Romania Music Awards||Best Music Video||Won|
|"Avantaje" Magazine||Woman of the Year||Won|
|2000s||Fildorf Festival||Various Awards||Won|
|2010||Selectia nationala||Romania in the Eurovision Song Contest||Won|
|RRA Awards||Best Pop Album||Won|
|Best Pop Song||Won|
|Eurovision Song Contest||Semi-Final||Qualified|
|2011||"Successful Women Awards"||Young Talents||Won|
|"RRA Awards 2011"||"Artist of the Year"||Won|
|"Female Performance of the Year"||Nominated|
|"Best Pop Song" (Playing With Fire)||Won|
|2014||Selecția Națională||Romania in the Eurovision Song Contest||Won|
|Eurovision Song Contest||Semi-Final||Qualified|
|1998||Only Love |
|Ştiu că Exist |
|Colinde şi cântece sfinte |
|1999||De Dragoste |
|2001||Mă Voi Întoarce |
|Ştii ce înseamnă |
|Prima Selectie |
|2002||Albumul de Craciun |
|2003||Fără Sfârşit |
|2006||De Sărbători |
|2009||Culeg Vise |
|2010||Playing with Fire |
|2013||One Mile of Words |
|Title||Year||Peak Chart Positions||Album|
|"Ploaie în Luna lui Marte"||1998||3||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Ştiu că exist|
|"Te iubesc" |
|88||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Romania in the Eurovision Song Contest 1998|
|"Lânga mine" |
(featuring Direcṭia 5)
|2001||100||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Mă Voi Întoarce|
|"Un băiat şi o fată" |
|"Promit"||24||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Stii ce inseamna|
|"Chip de Inger"||69||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"Culeg Vise"||2009||98||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Culeg Vise|
|"Playing with Fire" |
|2010||65||29||44||112||12||28||—||51||200||Playing with Fire|
|"Counting Down" |
|"Calling You (Hello, Hello)" |
|"I Feel Free" |
(featuring Plan D)
|"Pansament"||2013||10||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||One Mile of Words|
|2011||Cars 2||Holley Shiftwell||Romanian voice-dub|