Spell bound

The mis­sion to make Isa­iah Fire­brace a Euro­vi­sion star

Herald Sun - Switched On - - FRONT PAGE - KATHY MCCABE NA­TIONAL MUSIC WRITER

Isa­iah Fire­brace rated him­self a long shot in the field of stars ru­moured to be up for the gig of rep­re­sent­ing Aus­tralia at Euro­vi­sion 2017.

The 17-year-old singer had thrown his name into the mix af­ter win­ning the fi­nal se­ries of

The X Fac­tor last year. While pro­mot­ing his de­but sin­gle, It’s Gotta Be You, a few days af­ter his win last Novem­ber, Fire­brace told News Corp the world’s big­gest singing con­test was next in his sights.

That dec­la­ra­tion brought him to the at­ten­tion of the SBS and Blink TV team who make the se­lec­tion and al­ready had four names on their short­list.

“I had heard the ru­mours of other peo­ple who were be­ing con­sid­ered and they were ma­jor artists from Ha­vana Brown to Delta Goodrem, The Veron­i­cas and even Jess Mauboy. When I heard those names I didn’t think I would get it,” Fire­brace says.

But Aus­tralia’s head of del­e­ga­tion, Paul Clarke, thought Fire­brace had po­ten­tial.

There was no dis­put­ing the im­pres­sive range and con­trol of his voice as ev­i­denced by scen­esteal­ing per­for­mances of songs such as Halo and A Change Is

Gonna Come on X Fac­tor. He could work a stage and the cam­era liked him. It’s Gotta

Be You also won him an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence, par­tic­u­larly in Europe.

The song has been a stream­ing hit, with more than 75 mil­lion lis­tens on Spo­tify alone. It reached the up­per ech­e­lon of the site’s charts in more than 15 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Den­mark, Nor­way, and Swe­den, a coun­try that has been one of Aus­tralia’s big­gest sup­port­ers at Euro­vi­sion.

And with Euro­vi­sion’s “Cel­e­brat­ing Di­ver­sity” motto for 2017, who bet­ter to rep­re­sent Aus­tralia than this in­dige­nous teenager from the bor­der town of Moama on the Mur­ray?

As they be­gin re­hearsals in Kiev — find­ing his feet on a gi­ant turntable stage prop de­signed to wow the con­test’s fans and judges — Clarke says there is still one more thing to work on with the young singer.

“I think our job now is to make him look sexy for the teenagers who want to vote for him be­cause they find him at­trac­tive. That is part of Euro­vi­sion, too,” Clarke says.

“When Isa­iah sings, he melts hearts, he casts a spell on peo­ple when he sings and that’s ul­ti­mately why we went with him this year.”

Fire­brace ad­mits he “dares to dream” about go­ing one bet­ter than Dami Im’s spec­tac­u­lar per­for­mance last year, fin­ish­ing run­ner-up. His com­pe­ti­tion song, Don’t

Come Easy, was writ­ten by lo­cal hit­mak­ers DNA, who also penned his de­but sin­gle and Im’s hit Sound Of Si­lence.

“I def­i­nitely dare to dream about win­ning it. Oth­er­wise, why bother? But win­ning for me, that’s rep­re­sent­ing Aus­tralia, I could never ever imag­ine do­ing this, so it’s a win.”

WATCH EURO­VI­SION 2017, SEMI­FI­NAL 1 FEA­TUR­ING ISA­IAH, SBS, MAY 10, FROM 5AM; SEMI-FI­NAL 2, MAY 12; GRAND FI­NAL, MAY 14

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