UK Euro­vi­sion hope­ful pays trib­ute to his mother ahead of Is­rael show

The Scotsman - - NEWS DIGEST - By ALEX GREEN

hope­ful Michael Rice owes it all to his mother The UK’S en­try for this year’s Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test has paid trib­ute to his mother, who nur­tured his dream of find­ing fame as a pop star.

Michael Rice’s mother Stephanie, a sin­gle par­ent, made sure he took mu­si­cal theatre classes each week­end from the age of six.

The 21- year- old from Hartle­pool said his mother strug­gled to pay the £ 60 fee each fort­night but those early years paid off when he started writ­ing songs.

Rice, the el­dest of four, said his mother had “fo­cused on me and made sure I got my dream - the dream I am liv­ing now”.

He said: “When I was six my mum put me into a mu­si­cal theatre school on the Satur­days. It was a strug­gle for her be­cause it was £ 60 ever y f o r t ni g ht a nd s he was a sin­gle mum at the time - and there were four of us.” At 13 he dropped mu­si­cal theatre and be­gan writ­ing. Soon he had penned his first song, Lead Not Fol­low, the ti­tle of which he would even­tu­ally have tat­tooed on his right arm.

He said: “It was only when I was 13 that I de­cided I didn’t want to do mu­si­cals any­more. It spi­ralled from there. Then I was busk­ing on the streets up and down the coun­try, then All To­gether Now came and I won that.”

Rice has per­formed on Euro­vi­sion host Gra­ham Nor­ton’s self- ti­tled BBC One show as well as trav­el­ling to Euro­pean cities for pre- par­ties in the lead- up to the con­test.

Next week he will per­form the song Big­ger Than Us in Tel Aviv, Is­rael, dur­ing the grand fi­nal in front of up to 7,000 au­di­ence mem­bers and many more glob­ally.

He has been tar­geted by trolls online who have at­tacked his weight and la­belled him a copy­cat of pop star Sam Smith and The X Fac­tor win­ner James Arthur.

He re­mained de­fi­ant, say­ing: “For peo­ple who are 40 and 50 years old to fin­ish work, come home, get on the com­puter and just ab­so­lutely go in on me on Twit­ter and Youtube...

“I’m rep­re­sent­ing the countr y. So a lit­tle more sup­port would be nice.”

The 2019 Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test will be held be­tween Tues­day and Satur­day.

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