The preparations for the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest are well underway and countries are starting to select their participants, either internally or through national selections. Which artists have been selected so far and will represent their country in Lisbon in May? Let's find out.
Belgium - Laura Groeseneken
Belgium was the first country to select their artist. Laura Groeseneken will represent her country Lisbon in May 2018. She was born in 1990 and comes from Leuven. The singer-songwriter has already worked on several high-profile musical projects including the 50th anniversary celebrations of the James Bond franchise, 007 In Concert.
Since 2014 Laura has been performing with with Ozark Henry and together they have appeared at some of Belgium's biggest festivals, including Rock Werchter, which takes place in Belgium every July.
Finland - Saara Aalto
Saara Aalto will represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest of 2018. She participated in the The Voice Finland and in X Factor UK and she finished second in both contests. Earlier this year Saara told Eurovision.tv: "I'm of course jumping right in with the attitude that I can win the Eurovision Song Contest – or at least finish in second place! That's something I've been great at, no doubt about it".
Finnish broadcaster YLE always held a public national selection for their participation, but they have changed that around and choose their artist internally. This is the first time ever that a Finnish Eurovision Delegate has been selected via invitation. For the last six years YLE has held an open call for Finland’s Eurovision entry through the televised UMK Contest.
Azerbaijan - Aisel Mammadova
The third country to confirm their artist was Azerbaijan, Aisel Mammadova will represent her country in Lisbon after being chosen by İctimai Television. Aisel was born in Baku in 1989 and comes from a musical family. Over the years Aisel has participated in several musical festivals including the Caspian Jazz & Blues Festival (2002), the Baku International Jazz festival (2005/2006), the MuzEnergo Festival of Music Improvisation (2007), the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2009 and the Caucasus Jazz Festival in 2012.
Aisel's song will be unveiled at a later date.
The Netherlands - Waylon
Waylon is the first male artist to have confirmed participation for Lisbon. Dutch public broadcaster AVROTROS announced this early November after choosing him internally. He represented his country before in 2014 as one half of The Common Linnets, when he and Ilse Delange finished second.
The Common Linnets are still performing today although Waylon left the band to pursue a solo career. In September 2014 he released his third album, Heaven After Midnight which he referred to as his "first real album."
Waylon's entry for the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest will be released next year.
Austria - Cesár Sampson
Confirmation of the second male artist for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2018 came from Austria and their artist Cesár Sampson. He was part of the Vienna-based collective of producers that lead Bulgaria to their historical fourth and second places in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Broadcaster ORF chose Cesár internally, just as they chose Nathan Trent for the 2017 contest. Their choice fell on the artist, songwriter and producer, born in 1983 in Linz, Austria. Eberhard Forcher, song contest savvy music expert, says: "This year we chose an artist, who only at first glance appears to be a newcomer, as he has successfully participated in Eurovision twice already (as vocal producer and support singer for Bulgaria). With his dark, soulful voice and a background, that lies equally in classic gospel as it does in modern electronic-pop, he has all the necessary tools to possibly become a standout in this competition. He is the complete package."
César's song will be revealed early 2018.