He’s heading over to Kyiv with the hopes and dreams of an entire nation resting on his young shoulders, but Australian Eurovision entry Isaiah Firebrace won’t be alone up there on that Ukranian stage. In his heart, he will carry the lessons and examples of the musical heroes who shaped the performer he is today. Here are five inspirations who helped build Isaiah.
His dad shaped his early musical loves
Musical ability doesn’t magically appear out of nowhere (usually). Isaiah comes from a big family, which means there have always been plenty of people to sing along with – including his drummer father. “Growing up, my dad was a massive Creedence Clearwater Revival fan and I know pretty much every Creedence song,” he told auspOp. “And I know a lot of '70s and '80s music. It’s kinda weird, because you wouldn’t think that a 17-year-old would know all that.”
Adam Lambert showed him some showmanship
As Isaiah’s mentor on The X Factor, Adam Lambert was on hand week after week to help him learn the ropes of stardom. But that didn’t necessarily mean giving guidance on his vocals, Isaiah told auspOp. “He worked more on my performance side. Which you probably saw on the show. I mean, I got to my knees during the performances – you might have seen. He encouraged that side of me. I think I’m more comfortable on stage because of him.”
Jessica Mauboy is his biggest hero
She came to our attention through a reality TV show and, just like Isaiah, Jessica Mauboy combines incredible talent with down-to-earth cool. “Always been an inspiration,” he says. “She’s shown me that as an Indigenous person I can follow my dreams and do the same.” Jessica, of course, represented Australia in our first foray onto the Eurovision stage as the interval act in 2014’s second semifinal. Which sounds like a good luck charm to us...
Mariah Carey taught him to follow his bliss
“I feel like Mariah Carey has been my biggest inspiration; her music inspires me to never give up on my dreams,” Isaiah told Today in March. Their voices may be somewhat different, but it’s the American diva’s attitude to music that has stuck with our boy. “I just hope that I can connect with my music, with my voice, beyond just the words of the song. I want to connect on a personal level, in a way that means something.”
Iggy Azalea bought him an iPad for his birthday
And, in return, he brought Iggy to tears on The X Factor with his cover of Beyonce’s "Halo", and jumped off the stage to give her a hug straight after. “I feel like I identify with you so much, because I know how hard it is to come from such a small place and want to make your dreams come true,” she told him. “And I root for you so much. That really touched me.” (Obviously she’s gone a bit American, or she would have said “barrack” instead of “root”.)
The Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast over SBS’s Eurovision weekend - Friday 12 May, Saturday 13 May, and Grand Final Sunday 14 May at 7.30pm on SBS with LIVE early morning broadcasts begin Wednesday 10 May at 5am on SBS.