Isaiah Firebrace has been chosen to represent Australia at this year's Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Kiev, Ukraine, SBS has announced.
The 17-year-old with the distinctive baritone voice from Moama in NSW, is heading to Kyiv as the third-ever Australian entrant for Eurovision which is watched by 200 million worldwide.
"I love the energy from a big crowd, I think any performer does," he said. "You can draw so much energy from a big crowd."
Australian head of delegation for Eurovision Paul Clarke said Firebrace was chosen for his wonderful voice and "ability to cast a spell on the audience". ”Just imagine when we get to the Eurovision stage what we're going to be able to do, it'll be something really beautiful, really exciting and really dramatic we hope," he said.
"It's no mean feat following what Dami did last year and the way she was presented by the great Stockholm team, but we're really excited and we've got some great ideas."
Firebrace said he struggled to keep his nomination a secret after he was told by his manager that he had been selected.
He'll be pitching up with power ballad ”Don't Come Easy”, penned by David Musucemi and Anthony Egizii, the team behind last year's Australian Eurovision smash ”Sound of Silence” by Dami Im, the 2013 X Factor winner.
Despite his relative youth, Firebrace was expecting to take the Eurovision experience in his stride: "I think age is just a number," he said. "I don't know if it was the way I was brought up or what, but I try not to think about things too much, I think as a performer you need to keep your head clear.”
Firebrace has already picked Dami Im’s brain about what to expect at Eurovision: “She was giving me advice, telling me to make sure I’m eating healthy food and getting enough rest and to not spend too much time on my phone. I might struggle with that, I’m always on my phone. She said it’s a once in a lifetime thing and you have to focus and do your best. That was good to hear from her, because her performance was awesome.”
It was a highly likely path to Eurovision for Firebrace, who cites Mariah Carey as his biggest influence. His X Factor win gained him a contract with Sony – the same record company stable behind Australia's previous Eurovision entrants Dami Im and Guy Sebastian and Mauboy's performance at the 2014 contest. His first single ”It’s Gotta Be You” has already found Firebrace an international audience online, going gold in Sweden thanks to global popularity on Spotify.
If Isaiah wins, the 2018 edition of Eurovision will be held in an European country and Australian television SBS will have to assume half of the expenses . To do this, the representative will have to overcome the semifinal and beat the other 42 countries that have confirmed their participation in Kiev 2017. The Grand Final will take place on 13 May.
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