Teen wildcard named Eurovision hopeful
A famous cabaret star, a talent show survivor and a wildcard whose song has blown the minds of Eurovision organisers have joined the roll call of artists competing to represent Australia at the international contest next year.
The biggest surprise in the field been drip-fed to fans by SBS is Melbourne singer songwriter Leea Nanos.
The 16-year-old unknown grabbed the attention of Australia's Head of Delegation Paul Clarke when she uploaded Set Me Free as a potential song for the local contestants.
Instead of assigning it to a well known artist, Clarke decided he wanted her to show off her own powerful pipes and perform it at the SBS contest.
Nanos is the youngest and most inexperienced of the field. Yet her freshness may count in her favour with Australian voters.
The teenager, who is managed by the same team behind 2017 Eurovision contestant Isaiah Firebrace, has been entering singing competitions since she was 11 and confesses she has had her fair share of rejection.
She decided to upload her song Set Me Free to the Eurovision portal hoping it might get her noticed by organisers but was shocked when they asked her to be one of the 10 singers who will compete to represent Australia.
"I've been songwriting since I was 11. I went in competitions doing covers and got nowhere," she said.
"I have had so many knock-backs that when I uploaded my song, I wasn't thinking I would get a yes. But I was hoping for it."
While Set Me Free was inspired by "a guy I thought I liked" last year, it has come to be a deeply personal song about following her ambitions for a music career despite opposition from family and friends.
"It's now about letting go of the people who are negative and don't support you," she said.
HARD ACT TO FOLLOW
Loud squeals and cheers from diehard fans of the world's biggest singing comp are sure to greet the announcement of Courtney Act for the Eurovision: Australia Decides contest in February.
Act has long been mooted as a candidate to represent Australia at Eurovision since we were invited to join the crazy singing contest in 2015.
And she would have a big advantage at Eurovision having won over thousands of fans in the UK to win Celebrity Big Brother this year.
Australia desperately needs fan votes from the UK and Europe to have a hope of winning the contest.
While we are popular with the juries, our contestants struggle to find support from the contest's fans who either remain suspicious or confused about our presence at Eurovision or remain loyal to the various voting blocs which have formed over the decades.
The charismatic drag superstar has already been assigned the song Fight For Love to perform at the local selection shows which will be held on the Gold Coast.
"A sweet 16 years after Australian Idol, I have the chance to show Australia how I have grown as an artist and a performer and I am so excited," Act said.
"To compete to represent Oz in Eurovision is second only to being on that stage in Tel Aviv and singing my lungs out for my country.
"I've sat at home every year since Guy Sebastian competed in 2015 and have been so keen to be a part of it. Now, this might be my chance!"
Teen pop find Aydan who made it to the final four in The Voice this year has been given another lease of television life with the offer to sing at the Australian selection show.
Clearly organisers are wanting to engage the same young female fans who supported his campaign on The Voice for their big gig.
"Having been a fan of Eurovision, it's really hard to comprehend that I am going to have a shot at representing our country at the Eurovision Song Contest," he said.
"I have such a supportive fan base and I am hoping that together we'll go on this journey and see a new generation of Eurovision fans."
Courtney Act, Aydan and Leea Nanos join Kate Miller-Heidke, Mark Vincent, Sheppard and Electric Fields in the quest to become Australia's representation at the 2019 Eurovision in Tel Aviv next May.
Three more artists are to be announced in the New Year and matched with songs picked from more than 700 submissions.
Australian fans will vote for their favourite artist and song to go to the world's biggest singing contest during the live SBS broadcast at 7.30pm on February 9.
They can also check out the preliminary action at the Jury Preview Show on February 8 at 7.30pm and Matinee Preview Show on February 9 at 1pm, with tickets now on sale for those warm-up gigs and the live event.