Late last year RTÉ announced that it was taking a different approach to selecting Ireland’s Eurovision Song Contest act. They nominated five mentors with proven experience in the Irish music industry and asked them each to select an act and song which they believe has the potential to be a winner of Europe's favourite TV-show.
The five mentors and their chosen acts & songwriters are:
- Don Mescall - Talking With Jennifer - Written by Ronan Hardiman & Don Mescall - Mentored by Ronan Hardiman
- Jedward - Lipstick - Written by Dan Priddy, Lars Jensen And Martin Larson - Mentored by Caroline Downey Desmond
- To be announced - Shine On - Written by Patrick Mahoney - Mentored by Willie Kavanagh
- The Vard Sisters - Send Me An Angel - Written by Liam Lawton - Mentored by Liam Lawton
- Nikki Kavanagh - Falling - Written by Christina Schilling, Camilla Gottschalck, Jonas Gladnikoff and Hanif Sabzevari - Mentored by David Hayes
Who are the mentors?
Ronan Hardiman - composer
Ronan has selected Don Mescall as his act for this year's Eurosong 2011. Born in County Limerick Don Mescall is a highly successful singer singer/songwriter and has been partly responsible for sales of more than five million records. As a songwriter Don has written songs for The Backstreet Boys, Ronan Keating (who also wrote the 2009 Danish entry, Brinck's Believe Again), Boyzone.
Speaking about his decision to select Don as his act, Ronan said: "When I was invited by RTÉ to become a Mentor for Eurosong 2011 my approach as a composer was to submit a song that by any standards would be a stand alone hit. Don is also an amazing singer, with a very distinctive voice and is a very experienced charismatic performer.
Caroline Downey-Desmond - Director MCD and event producer
Caroline has chosen John and Edward Grimes aka Jedward as her act for Eurosong 2011. Jedward will be performing Lipstick, a song written by UK-based songwriters Dan Priddy, Lars Halvor Jensen & Martin M. Larsson, who have also written songs for JLS, Blue, and Sugababes (as you might remember, the 2009 UK participant, Jade Ewen, is now a member of the band).
"I chose Jedward as my Eurosong act as I wanted to bring energy and fun to the competition and believe the rest of Europe will love them. Lipstick is a great pop song and it's perfect for the Eurovision Song Contest," Downey-Desmond said.
Jedward's debut single Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby) hit number 1 in the Irish singles charts and number 2 in the UK singles charts, on downloads alone. Their debut album Planet Jedward, released in July 2010, became the fastest selling record in Ireland last year.
Willie Kavanagh - Chairman, EMI Music Ireland
For Eurosong 2011, mentor Willie Kavanagh has put together a brand new Irish quartet as his act. However the music mogul is keeping the details tightly under wraps and they will be revealed for the first time in this Eurosong documentary.
Speaking about his mystery act, Willie said: "For Eurosong 2011 I wanted to create a brand new Irish act and use a new emerging Irish songwriter as I feel that new music is the essence of what the Eurovision Song Contest is about. I auditioned a huge number of performers as I wanted to put together a strong vocal group, whose voices really gelled well together. It's a quartet, made up of two boys and two girls, all of whom are experienced performers."
Liam Lawton - Composer and performer
Liam Lawton, composer and performer, has worked with The Vard Sisters on a number of projects in the past.
The Vard Sisters are a Dublin born trio who have a wealth of experience in the music business. In 1998, The Vard Sisters released their debut album Heavenly. The album went on to sell a phenomenal 120,000 copies (six times platinum) becoming one of the most successful Irish debut albums ever.
Speaking about his act Liam said: "I’ve really enjoyed working with The Vard Sisters in the past. They have recorded a number of my songs and they were runners-up the only other time that they entered the competition, with a song that I had also composed."
David Hayes - arranger and producer
David selected Nikki Kavanagh, a young professional singer from Swords, as his act for this year's Eurosong.
Nikki Kavanagh was a backing singer for Niamh Kavanagh (no relation!) at last year's Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo. She also appeared on Eurosong 2008 as backing vocalist for Marc Roberts.
Nikki will be performing Falling which was written by an experienced quartet of Swedish and Danish songwriters.
Viewers will get a sneak preview of the five acts in Eurosong 2011 - The Players, a special behind-the-scenes documentary, which will be broadcast on Saturday, 5th of February.
The winning act will be selected on Eurosong 2011 hosted by The Late Late Show on the 11th of February. As was the case last year, Ireland's entry will be selected by a combination of public and regional jury vote.