Aussie prepares for Eurovision performance...for Armenia

Armenia Eurovision

A young starlet with Australian roots has been selected to sing in the Eurovision competition - for Armenia. 

(Transcript from World News Radio)

Most Eurovision buffs might be forgiven for thinking Guy Sebastian is the only Australian who'll be performing at the song contest this year in Austria.

Well, guess again.

As Darren Mara reports, a young starlet with Australian roots has also been selected to sing in the competition.

Meet Genealogy, Armenia's entry to this year's Eurovision song contest.

The band is a multinational ensemble drawn from Armenian diasporas around the world.

And from Australia - Mary-Jean O'Doherty Vasmatzian, or as she likes to be called, MJ.

MJ's father is Australian and she spent some years here studying.

She says her preparations for Eurovision are going strong ... but there's one catch.

That's MJ practising and her coach Arax Mansourian offering feedback.

Arax is sitting at a piano in the Sydney suburb of Eastlakes ... MJ is in her loungeroom in Cardiff, Wales.

They're communicating over a chat program and web cam.

Arax - herself a veteran and acclaimed Armenian musician and opera singer - tells the story of how MJ came to be her student.

"I got an email from her mother in 2005. Right, Mary-Jean? (Mary-Jean on iPad agrees). We didn't know each other. Suddenly I've got a long email. I just want to send my daughter to study with you. I said yes. There's an Armenian woman asking me. Of course. And that was our beginning."

As If preparing for a big event like Eurovision isn't a big enough task, imagine having to do it over the internet.

MJ and Arax have been training together some 10 years, and for almost two years via webcam.

Among MJs many accolades is the Australian International Opera Award which she won in 2008.

She's sung on some big stages, but nothing like Eurovision.

"This is to an order of magnitude that I can't even think about. It's crazy. Even the practice sessions will have ten thousand people. I think I'm prepared, but I have no idea what this intense feeling will be. But it should be amazing. It should be cool. I've got a whole band with me. It's not just me and I'm representing a country. It's not MJ singing. It's me representing Armenia."

Her coach Arax feels she's on Team Armenia. too.

"I am, I am. Every day I'm looking on Skype and on Facebook. Every day. Mary-Jean, some said you were fantastic. Someone sent me a message saying Mary-Jean is not only a great singer, but also a great human being, a good heart. I said thank I am very proud of her, and of course she is, inside, half Armenian."

The song MJ and the Genealogy band will sing is titled 'Don't Deny'.

There's been some criticism in Turkey and Azerbaijan.

They claim the title refers to the 1915 mass killings - which the Armenian Government calls genocide... and the Turkish government disputes.

But MJ insists it's a song about love.

"The title is Don't Deny and it's song about forgiveness and the love we all share in our families, it's all about family, but also the human family as well. You can't really define it too specifically. It's open to interpretation but the way I feel is it's about love, unity and forgiveness."

Armenia's first Eurovision appearance will be on May 19.

Still plenty of time to rehearse.



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