Only weeks before he was due to compete in the Icelandic national selection this year, singer and songwriter Sjónni Brink tragically passed away. His family decided that he would have wanted the show to go on, and quickly organised for his best friends to sing the song Coming Home in his memory. They went on to win the selection and are now representing Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Tribute to Sjónni
The Icelandic entry has a complicated distribution of the singing between the six lead vocalists. "We divided the lines between us so that all get a solo part of their own." say the band. They get a lot of questions on their late friend, the songwriter Sjónni.
We were a bit prepared for this. Of course, it's never easy to reminisce about the whole situation. But we try, we have a beautiful message, and we feel good about spreading it. The message is to seize the day. We're all such good friends and like to be together, so it's not hard to prepare for the stage.
Sjónni's Friends remark on the contest, "For the competition, it's good too that not every song is 'Boom boom boom', that makes for more diversity. We have the Danish song, the Italian guy with the piano."
Remembering Sjónni within the set
Sjónni's friends warmed themselves up on stage by playing instruments and singing prior to the first run through.
The set has it's own tribute to Sjónni, with the drummer sitting on a saddle to play the drums, to commemorate Sjónni's love of horses. The drums themselves display the words Love Is You, which was one of Sjónni's songs, and the general country feel to the performance is paying homage to Sjónni's passion for the outdoors and the Icelandic countryside.
Feeling of togetherness
Sjónni's Friends were asked about the fact that they are here under sad circumstances, and how everyone was coping with the experience. They replied:
"We didn't think you could laugh as much as we have done in the last few days, this experience has pushed us even closer together if anything."
The whole team were all good friends of Sjónni, his wife Thorunn is the lyricist of Coming Home. The Head of Press Felix was a personal friend of his, and Head of Delegation Jonatan knew Sjónni well and published his first album. A lot of Sjónni's family and friends will arrive to support the team on Tuesday in the First Semi-Final.
Eurovision medley and rapturous applause!
The team were asked if the tragic circumstances meant that Coming Home had an advantage to win the Icelandic selection. They answered: "The song is really strong,the song got a lot of attention, the difference between the first and second place was several thousand votes, so we feel it was the song that won and not the outside factors."
In a specially prepared surprise, Sjónni's Friends, including his wife Thorunn prepared a mini concert medley of past Eurovision Song Contest entries. This went huge with the assembled press who applauded continually, in particular when they sang Lena's 2010 winner Satellite and the 1987 German entry Lass Die Sonne In Dein Herz from Wind.