Birgit"New Beginning" is not just the translated title of Birgit Õigemeel's Eurovision entry, it also describes the recent developments in her life very well. She is not only facing the challenge of performing in an international arena, she is also expecting her first child!
Birgit Õigemeel is without doubt one of the happiest people in the world right now. Her life is full of love and great expectations: the challenge of performing in an international arena, settling in to her new home in Tallinn, and looking forward to the birth of her first baby. There could be no more exciting time for her to be taking part in Eurovision than now, when she and her partner Indrek Sarrap are expecting their first child. And she's not alone - composer Mihkel Mattisen is about to become a parent for the first time, too!
It's clearly fate that Et Uus Saaks Alguse (known in English as 'New Beginning') is representing Estonia at the Eurovision Song Contest. Children have played a big role in Birgit's life throughout her professional career, which began in 2007 when she won the first ever series of Estonian Pop Idol. A year later she set up the Tähelaps ('Starchild') charity with politician and good friend Margus Tsahkna in support of the education of children from orphanages.
Born in the small Estonian town of Kohila, Birgit has three sisters: two older and one younger. Her father is a furniture maker, but it's her mother – a singing teacher – whose footsteps she has followed, teaching children to sing in one of her older sister's song and dance studios.
In 2009 she teamed up with the internationally acclaimed deep house production duo Rulers of the Deep on the album Teineteisel Pool ('The Other Side'). A showcase of intelligent club music, it won her the award of the Female Artist of the Year 2010 in Estonia. In 2010 she took the role of Maria von Trapp in the 'The Sound of Music' in Estonia. She has also taken part in the national selection for Eurovision on two previous occasions, in 2008 and 2012.
Birgit is only too aware that resting on your laurels is a step backwards, which is why she's studying music therapy at Tallinn University. "I'm interested in the deeper effect that music has on people," she explains. "I've been studying music therapy for four years now, and I've realised that music can have a very positive therapeutic effect. I know from experience that you can use it to help people."
Just like Birgit, songwriter Mihkel Mattisen is also set to become a parent for the first time! He is a successful composer and performer of both classical music and pop. He is widely recognised for his talent, having been a team captain on the Estonian television show 'Tähed muusikas' ('The Lyrics Board')
As soon as he graduated from high school he set his sights on pop music - as a singer, producer, lyricist and composer. He began studying classical piano at Tallinn Music School at the age of six and has since gone on to graduate from both the Estonian Academy of Music and the London Guildhall School of Music and Drama. As a pianist he has given hundreds of concerts around Estonia and abroad.
Lyricist Silvia Soro is the sister of Birgit's partner Indrek Sarrap. She is a freelance playwright, director and – from time to time – actor. She has written more than 30 plays, the majority of which have been penned for the young actors she tutors. Five of her plays have been staged by professional theatres in Estonia.
Silvia has been writing songs and lyrics since she was young, but considers it more of a hobby than a calling. She has provided the words to go with the music in a number of children's productions staged by the Ugala Theatre and has now written three songs with composer Mihkel Mattisen.
In addition to writing, Silvia leads young people's theatre studios in the city of Viljandi and the surrounding county and teaches improvisation and self-expression at Viljandi Cultural Academy. Silvia is married to actor Aarne Soro. They have two daughters who are both interested in the theatre: ten-year-old Herta and six-year-old Marta. Silvia completed her Master's degree in theatrical art and pedagogy at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in 2010.