By 1993, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, the original format for Eurovision had become unworkable – there were now simply too many countries wishing to compete to fit into a broadcastable show. It was therefore decided that year to hold a pre-qualifying round in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana for seven new nations: the three former Yugoslav republics of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia plus Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Estonia. The Yugoslavs were careful not to vote exclusively for their erstwhile countrymen yet they still filled all Top 3 qualification spots, while the Estonian entry, Muretut Meelt Ja Südametuld by 17-year-old actress Janika Sillamaa, ended up fifth and was eliminated.
In 1994 a relegation system was instituted: the five lowest placed countries from the previous year were ejected (in addition Luxembourg and Italy withdrew) and seven countries debuted – including all four who’d missed out in 1993’s qualification process.
The Estonians changed tack for their first appearance in the final and instead of a 17-year-old actress, they went for Silvi Vrait, a music teacher who’d celebrated her 43rd birthday just two days previously. The song, Nagu Merelaine (Like A Seawave), was not a success, it finished second-to-last and so Estonia were relegated and were forced to sit out the 1995 contest. However the song’s composer, Ivar Must, did go on to greater things – he wrote Everybody for Tanel Padar and Dave Benton, to date Estonia’s only winning song in 2001.
We weren’t fans of Everybody which is one of the 15 winning entries not to make the Top 500; we were far fonder of the old music teacher, who sadly died in 2013, but will forever be remembered as the earliest Estonian Eurovision entrant, and also the first from that country in our chart.