Getting to know Jeangu Macrooy from The Netherlands
He was born in the smallest independent country in South America.
He formed a band and released an album with his twin brother, who'll join him on stage in Rotterdam.
He was a regular guest on The Netherlands' longest-running talk show.
And he prides himself on being an openly gay role model in his country of birth and beyond.
Who is he, you ask?
Step into the Eurovision spotlight, Jeangu Macrooy!
A Star Is Born
Jeangu Macrooy, 27, was born in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, where he lived until the mid-2010s before relocating to The Netherlands to study musical composition at an academy in Enschede in the country's east. He learned to play the guitar in his early teens and grew up on a diet of reggae (Bob Marley) and modern soul/RnB (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey), with the latter undoubtedly influencing the "sound" of his music.
Jeangu has a close relationship with his twin brother, Xillan, with whom he has written songs and collaborated as the band Between Towers. Although he topped the Surinamese charts with the song 'High On You' - and charted in The Netherlands with the album of the same name - as a soloist, the strength of the brothers' musical bond clearly endures: Xillan will appear at the Ahoy Arena alongside Jeangu as a backing vocalist.
Since being signed to Dutch label Unexpected Records in late 2015, Jeangu has released three albums and multiple singles, with his rich, soulful voice on the track 'Gold' being heard by many in The Netherlands as part of HBO advertising for, amongst other things, cult series Game of Thrones. He has also been the supporting act for, and toured under his own name in, concerts held at venues nationwide as well as in Belgium, France and Germany.
The renown he acquired as a performer and songwriter led to him being invited to appear as a regular guest on De Wereld Draait Door, a popular Dutch entertainment show, on which he sang both his own music and cover versions and discussed current music releases and trends.
And then not long thereafter, national broadcaster AVROTROS came a-calling and the rest is history.
The Eurovision Journey
Following an internal selection process, it was announced in January 2020 that Jeangu would represent The Netherlands later that year with 'Grow', a song that he had co-written about the passage of time and his efforts to find himself and which showcases the depth and soul with which he imbues his performances.
Sadly, due to the subsequent onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurovision fans missed out on the opportunity to hear a live version of the song in Rotterdam, with the Contest's cancellation and rescheduling for 2021 rendering 'Grow' ineligible to compete.
However, AVROTROS was quick to announce that Jeangu would remain the host nation's representative and now perform 'Birth of a New Age', on which Jeangu again has writing credits and a new language for Eurovision makes its debut: Sranan Tongo, a commonly spoken language in Suriname.
'Birth of a New Age' tells a story of resilience and inner strength, attributes which Jeangu links to the quest for respect and equality that drives both the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the LGBTIQA+ community.
Jeangu is out and proud, as is his twin brother Xillan.
Xillan said they came out to each other the same night and was a little disappointed as a twin he still didn't have something of his own, saying "I wrote it down on a note and put it in your (Jeangu's) room, because I thought you were sleeping. But two minutes later you said, ‘oh me too!’ And I just didn’t know how to deal with that."
The brothers have the support of their mother and family but Jeangu has spoken about wanting to help progress in his native Suriname saying “I want to show them that its okay to be yourself, and if I can in any way help them through my music, I will.”
He has made no secret of the fact that he wants his performance on the Eurovision stage to be a source of empowerment and representation for young queer people, particularly those back in his home country.
'Birth of a New Age' is a powerful host nation entry and we wish Jeangu and The Netherlands all the best for the Grand Final.
You can find out more about Jeangu and his 2021 Eurovision entry here.