Eurovision 2019: Kate Miller-Heidke to represent Australia as public votes for the first time

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The artist won in a public vote and will be heading to Tel Aviv in May as Australia's Eurovision hopeful.

Kate Miller-Heidke is heading to the Eurovision Song Contest as Australia’s bid for global glory.

The veteran singer-songwriter beat nine other contenders with her song Zero Gravity, a song she says was inspired by coming out of depression after the birth of her son, Ernie, in 2016.

She said she was "overwhelmed" by the result. 

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"Thanks to everyone who voted, and to all the other artists who provided such a brilliant, eclectic and stiff competition.

"I’ve had a ball, and I’m so grateful and thrilled that I get to represent Australia at Eurovision in 2019."

In a dramatic performance with the singer dressed in a metres-high silver dress and headpiece, accompanied by a dancer on a pole sweeping back and forth behind her, she showcased her distinctive operatic vocals. 

Her winning entry, co-written with her husband Keir Nuttall, is about the "jubilation" felt when coming out of depression, she said. 

"The song is theatric and dramatic but at its heart it's about real emotions."

Kate Miller-Heidke
The winner of Australia's search for a Eurovision contender, Kate Miller-Heidke.
Getty

It was the first time in Australia’s five-year history of competing in Eurovision that the vote went out to the public. Eurovision - Australia Decides was broadcast live on Saturday night on SBS from the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. 

The 10 competing artists were as diverse in styles as they were in age and experience. Stepping up alongside Miller-Heidke with bids to represent Australia were indie band Sheppard, pop-opera singer Mark Vincent, electronica duo Electric Fields, drag queen and reality show winner Courtney Act, The Voice winner Alfie Arcuri and alumni Aydan Calafiore, 16-year-old singer Leea Nanos, Bachelor Girl’s Tania Doko and rocker and former Killing Heidi frontwoman Ella Hooper.

Eurovision hopefuls
Ten acts competed in Eurovision - Australia Decides for a chance to head to Tel Aviv.
Supplied

Earlier, Courtney Act told SBS: “Eurovision is this wonderful celebration of eclecticism and eccentricity. It started after the war to unite people and bring people together through music and I think it’s still doing that and I just love that Australia gets to be a part of it.”

Courtney Act
Courtney Act performing her song, Fight For Love.
Supplied

The vote was split 50:50 between the public and a jury of industry experts which included the singer and producer of Sweden’s Eurovision competition Melodifestivalen Christer Björkman, the director of member relations at APRA AMCOS Milly Petriella, music industry consultant and former recording industry executive Fifa Riccobono, the director of Blink TV Paul Clarke, and SBS Commissioning Editor, Eurovision Josh Martin.

Miller-Heidke won both the jury and the public vote. The runners-up were Electric Fields with 2000 and Whatever in second place and Sheppard with On My Way in third position. 

More than 700 songs were entered by artists into the competition during the three-week entry period last year.

To date, the strongest entrant among Australia’s Eurovision career  has remained Dami Im, who came second in 2016 with a her song,  Sound of Silence, which she performed at Eurovision - Australia Decides as a surprise guest. Other artists who have stepped up are Guy Sebastian for the inaugural entry in 2015, who came in fifth, Isaiah Firebrace in 2017 who reached ninth place and Jessica Mauboy in 2018, who came 20th.

Forty-two nations will compete in the Eurovision final on May 18 in Tel Aviv, with Israel hosting the competition following the victory of Israeli singer Netta Barzilai and her song, Toy, last year.

 

This year’s event is not without controversy, amid calls for the event to be relocated. Protests by the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement have asked for the event to be relocated or broadcasts cancelled due to what it a “fundamental problem with Eurovision going ahead in the midst of the catastrophe occurring in Gaza”.

Fifty famous names in Britain, including the designer Vivienne Westwood and musician Peter Gabriel have backed an open letter sent to the BBC,  the UK broadcaster of the event, asking for it to be relocated “ to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed”.

An spokesperson for SBS, the Australian broadcaster of Eurovision, said: “SBS respects and supports the right for people to express their views. SBS has been proudly broadcasting Eurovision for 35 years and we will continue to do so in 2019 because of the spirit of the event in bringing people and cultures together in a celebration of diversity and inclusion through music.”

 

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