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  • Writer's pictureFleur Menezes

Aussievision votes: Our Top 10 Eurovision entries from American artists

July the 4th can only mean thing - American Independence Day!

The day commemorates the Declaration of Independence of the United States that was signed on July 4, 1776.

Americans have represented various countries at the Eurovison Song Contest - some were invited to do so, while others were representing their adopted nations.

Results have overall been satisfactory for the land of Stars and Stripes, of the 20 contestants that have represented the USA, seven artists have made the top 10 with one of those winning the competition.

But what is our favourite? The Aussievision team voted and here are our results... H

(Voting was Top 5 with points 12, 8, 6, 4 and 2).

= 10th: Geneology (Armenia) – ‘Face the Shadow' (20 points)

  • 16th in 2015

  • Featuring Tamar Kaprelian, Stephanie Topalian & Mary-Jean O’Doherty Badmadjian

Genealogy was a supergroup whose members were handpicked to represent Armenia at the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. The members were selected because they represented the Armenia diaspora whose families settled across the world as a result of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Their appearance symbolised the centenary of the horrific event.

Tamar Kaprelian represented The Americas, Stephanie Topalian represented Asia and Mary-Jean O’Doherty Badmadjian represented Oceania. All three were born in the United States of America.

Kaprelian came to prominence after winning a contest created by American band OneRepublic when she performed the band’s hit single ‘Apologize’. Lead singer Ryan Tedder helped her with obtaining a recording contract and she released her album ‘Sinner or a Saint’ in 2010. Kaprelian became an Armenian citizen before her Eurovision performance and has since formed the Nvak Foundation, an organisation which assists with developing musical talent for young Armenian singers, songwriters, and musicians. She went on to compete in Depi Evratesil 2018 but did not advance to the final. Tamar Kaprelian has continued to release music in Armenia.

Singer and actress, Stephanie Topalian is of Armenian and Japanese descent and has primarily released music in Japan, where she has lived since she was 13 years old. Topalian has won Japanese music awards, most notably ‘Best New Artist’ in 2007. Some of her music has featured in Japanese films.

Texan, Mary-Jean O’Doherty Badmadjian is an opera singer with an Australian father and Armenian mother. She won the ABC Symphony Australia Young Vocalist Award in 2007 and in 2008 became the inaugural winner of the Australian International Opera Award.

= 10th: Al Bano & Romina Power (Italy) - ‘Magic Oh Magic' (20 points)

  • 7th in 1985

It’s not often that you would hear the words, “Eurovision” and “Hollywood legend” in the same sentence but here we are. Romina Power is the daughter of Zorro himself, the late Tyrone Power and Mexican actress Linda Christian. Born in the United States she eventually moved abroad with her mother and divided her time between Mexico and Italy.

Later she became an actress in her own right, concentrating her career in Italian language movies. She met her husband-to-be Al Bano while filming together and they were married in 1970 and started singing as a duo in 1975, gaining popularity throughout southern and eastern Europe.

Bano and Power had four children together. Sadly, their eldest daughter Ylenia went missing in New Orleans in 1994 and to this day remains as a missing person. This tragic experience took a toll on the couple and they divorced in 1999. Romina Power has since returned to her homeland

‘Magic Oh Magic' was the duo’s second appearance at Eurovision after performing ‘We'll Live It All Again’ in 1976. Al Bano and Romina Power finished in 7th place both times.

= 7th: András Kállay-Saunders (Hungary) - ‘Running’ (26 points)

  • 5th in 2014

New York born, András Kállay-Saunders is part of Hungarian nobility on his mother’s side while his father is a music producer. Despite growing up in the music industry, it was only when Kállay-Saunders was visiting his grandparents in Hungary that his own music career took off.

Kállay-Saunders entered the talent competition ‘Megasztár’ in 2010 and finished in 4th place. He decided to move permanently to Hungary and was signed to the European arm of Universal records. After releasing a string of hits, Kállay-Saunders entered A Dal in 2014 where he was successful in representing his adopted country.

‘Running’ was Hungary’s best result in the last decade and second best overall since their debut in 1993. The song was based on one of Kállay-Saunders’ friends who was a victim of child abuse.

Since his foray into Eurovision, Kállay-Saunders has gone on to form his own band called ‘Kállay-Saunders Band’ and has entered A Dal in 2016, 2017 and 2019.

= 7th: Alex Swings Oscar Sings (Germany) - ‘Miss Kiss Kiss Bang' (26 points)

  • 20th in 2009

  • Featuring Oscar Loya

For the first time since 1995, the German broadcaster ARD decided to use an internal selection process instead of taking the National Final route in 2009 due to poor ratings with German audiences. In keeping with utilising offbeat musical styles that Germany had dabbled with in the early 2000’s, German DJ Alex Christensen and Broadway singer Oscar Loya were put together to form ‘Alex Swings Oscar Sings’. The Eurovision performance ‘Miss Kiss Kiss Bang' famously featured Burlesque dancer Dita von Teese.

The song features on California-native Loya’s debut album ‘Heart 4 Sale’. Loya resides in Munich and works as a singing teacher and vocal coach. Additionally, he continues to perform in German musical theatre productions.

= 7th: Silver Convention (Germany) - ‘Telegram’ (26 points)

  • 8th in 1977

  • Featuring Rhonda Heath

Disco was huge in the late 1970’s. The USA and West Germany was at the forefront of the genre, so it should not come as a surprise that a West German/USA collaboration appeared at Eurovision. Silver Convention were a well established vocal group and had been Grammy award winners before entering the competition. Their most well-known songs being ‘Fly Robin Fly’, ‘Lady Bump’ and ‘Get Up and Boogie’.

Rhonda Heath was a singer and actress who was performing at a New York club when she was discovered by Silver Convention songwriters and producers Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze. She replaced one of the group’s vocalists in 1976 and remained with the group until they disbanded in 1979.

Heath has lived in Munich ever since and has released music in Germany. She is more prolific as a studio singer and session musician. Rhonda Heath’s other appearances at Eurovision has consisted of providing back up vocals for Gary Lux (Austria 1985) as well as featuring on keyboards for Mekado (Germany 1994).

6th: Wess and Dori Ghezzi (Italy) - ‘Era’ (30 points)

  • 3rd in 1975

  • Featuring Wesley Johnson

In the 1960s, Winston-Salem born Wesley Johnson ‘Wess” moved to Italy to further his music career. He formed the soul-funk band Wess & The Airedales in which he played bass guitar, the group disbanded in the early 1970’s.

Wess was signed to Italian record label Durium where he approached fellow stablemate Dori Ghezzi to perform ‘Voglio stare con te’, an Italian language version of Brotherhood of Man’s “United we stand’. Wess and Dori Ghezzi competed at the Sanremo Music Festival in 1973 and 1976 where they finished in 6th and 2nd place respectively. Together, they released 7 albums.

‘Era’ translates to ‘It was’. The song was also recorded in English, French and Spanish. Wess continued to perform after he and Ghezzi ceased as a duo. He passed away in New York whilst touring in 2009. His daughter Romina Johnson is an R'n'B singer, she had performed as one of his backing singers on numerous occasions.

= 4th: The Mamas (Sweden) - ‘Move’ (40 points)

  • Featuring Ashley Haynes

Two years ago, Ashley Haynes didn't hold a valid passport nor had she ever heard of Eurovision when she was contacted to provide backing vocals for John Lundvik at Melodifestvalen 2019. She quit her job in Washington DC on a whim when she learned that her workplace would not give her any time off for the competition. The rest is history. Lundvik went on to win that contest wit them and they went on to finish 5th at Eurovisoin in Tel Aviv. ,

Due to the success of her experience with The Mamas and Lundvik, Haynes chose to permanently relocate to Stockholm. The Mamas won Melodifestavelen 2020 but as we all know, the contest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic denying them the chance to compete in Rotterdam. The Mamas have since released a new single entitled ‘Let it Be’.

Haynes is relishing in her new life a full time musician and would like the chance to compete at the contest in the future although bandmate Loulou Lamotte, who has American heritage herself has stated that The Mamas would most likely not compete at Melodifestavelen 2021.

= 4th: Kalomira (Greece) - ‘Secret Combination’ (40 points)

  • 3rd in 2008

As a little girl growing up in Long Island, New York Maria Kalomira Carol Sarantis dreamed of becoming a pop star. She played the viola in her school’s orchestra and embarked on a music scholarship at university.

It was in 2003 when Greek and Cypriot network Antenna held auditions for their singing competition ‘Fame Story 2’ that her singing career began. Kalomira went to Greece and won the competition. One of her prizes was a recording contract. Her record company, Heaven Music nominated her to represent them at the Greek National Final in 2008. She won the final with more than 50% of the votes. She went on to finish 3rd at Eurovision continuing the success Greece had in the contest during the 2000s.

Kalomira has gone on to release four albums and several singles. Her success coming from the Greek and Cypriot markets.

3rd: Tommy Seebach & Debbie Cameron (Denmark) – ‘Krøller eller ej' (46 points)

  • 11th in 1981

A Danish disco song celebrating diversity and unity. ‘Krøller eller ej’ translates to ‘Curls or not’. The vocalists are late Danish music legend Tommy Seebach and Miami born singer Debbie Cameron. Cameron relocated to Copenhagen to live with her mother Etta, a jazz singer who was born in the Bahamas and who has an extensive career in Denmark herself.

Debbie Cameron resides in Denmark to this day. She has released many albums and singles and also has a couple of film credits to her name.

2nd: Equinox (Bulgaria) - ‘Bones’ (52 points)

  • 14th in 2018

  • Featuring Trey Campbell & Johnny Manuel

The second supergroup on our list that was specifically created for Eurovision. Equinox was put together by Borislav Milanov and his music production group, Symphonix. Their mission was to form a group with a strong international sound. Equinox was given a recording contract by Universal Music but to date has not released any other material other than ‘Bones’. The group consisted of two American performers.

Trey Campbell is a songwriter and was raised in North Carolina but is now based in Los Angeles. He co-wrote ‘Bones’. He has also written material for Dua Lipa, Adam Lambert as well as other international artists.

Johnny Manuel is a native of Flint, Michigan. He first came to prominence when he participated in America’s Got Talent in 2017. As a teenager he had signed a recording contract with Warner Music but was dropped shortly afterwards. He has since moved to Terrigal, New South Wales where he lives with his Australian partner. Currently, he is a contestant on The Voice Australia. His mentor is fellow Eurovision alumni, Guy Sebastian (Australia 2015).

1st: Katrina and the Waves (United Kingdom) - ‘Love Shine a Light' (66 points)

  • 1st in 1997

  • Featuring Katrina Leskanich

A winning song tops our list. To many, Katrina and the Waves are probably best known for their 1985 international hit ‘Walking on Sunshine’. But it is the anthemic ‘Love Shine a Light’ that shines in every corner of our hearts. Interestingly, the band’s Eurovision entry was their biggest selling song in the United Kingdom.

Katrina Leskanich was born in Topeka, Kansas. Her father was in the US Air Force and as a result the family moved frequently, eventually settling in the United Kingdom in 1976. Leskanich formed Katrina and the Waves in 1982 after her previous band ‘Mama's Cookin'’ parted ways. Originally, the band’s early success came from Canada which was where their record label was based. ‘Walking on Sunshine’ was originally a ballad which was reworked for their second album and this is the version that we know today. Katrina and the Waves earned a Grammy nomination for ‘Best New Artist’ in 1985.

The band released more music, but only their cover version of The Animals’ ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’, which they recorded with The Animals’ singer Eric Burdon, really made any impact. The song was recorded for the soundtrack of the American TV series ‘China Beach’.

‘Love Shine a Light’ came to be when Katrina and the Waves drummer Alex Cooper’s brother approached them to write a song to celebrate the 30th year anniversary of the charity that he was involved with. Leskanich made a remark that the song would be the type that would win the Eurovision Song Contest. The band decided to enter the national final and the rest is history.

Katrina and the Waves broke up in 1999 and Leskanich went on to have a solo career. She entered Melodifestivalen in 2005 with her new band, which was billed as “The Nameless”. Their song ‘As If Tomorrow Will Never Come’ was eliminated in the Andra Chansen final.

With the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest being cancelled ‘Love Shine a Light’ was performed by all contestants of the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest (except for the Belgian contestants, Hooverphonic) during the EBU's special broadcast ‘Europe: Shine a Light. Katrina Leskanich was featured at the end of the performance.

That is how the Aussievision team voted. Is your favourite on our list? Let us know via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


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