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In the spotlight: Montaigne

08 May 2020 at 10:05 CEST
In the spotlight: Montaigne Johnny Nicolaidis
With her song, 'Don't Break Me', Montaigne was chosen to represent Australia in 2020. In light of the unfortunate cancellation of the 65th Eurovision Song Contest, we wish to highlight the impressive acts that were set to appear. This is 'In the spotlight', our feature honouring the artists that would have made up this year's edition of the world's largest live music event.

Montaigne was crowned the winner of the second Eurovision - Australia Decides competition with her song Don't Break Me, which she performed in front of a live studio audience and a jury of industry experts. She secured her win with 54 votes from the Australian public and 53 points from the jury to combine for an impressive overall total of 107 points.

The live final was hosted by Joel Creasey and Myf Warhurst (who will host Australia's Eurovision 2020: Big Night In! on 16 May) and delivered performances from the winner of the first Eurovision - Australia Decides Kate Miller-Heidke, Eurovision 2016 runner-up Dami Im, Eurovision Song Contest 2015 winner Måns Zelmerlöw and Australia's Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2019 representative Jordan Anthony.

Who is Montaigne?

24-year-old Sydney-based artist and activist Montaigne (born Jess Cerro) was excited to represent Australia in Eurovision 2020 and has said of her delegation: "... I didn’t quite get that far in football, so it would be cool to do it in music. [Eurovision] is like the World Cup for pop."

She has received several music awards in recognition of her talents which have made her an important name in the indie music scene. She received an ARIA award for Best Breakthrough Artist as well as a nomination for Best Female Artist in 2016 and her original songs have been voted into the Triple J Radio's Hottest 100 list multiple times.

Australia's Eurovision 2020 participant Montaigne Johnny Nicolaidis

The Australian artist has released 2 albums: her first, Glorious Heights, reached #4 in the charts, and her second album, COMPLEX was released in 2019 to positive reviews. Montaigne has completed 3 national tours and has played in some of the country's biggest summer festivals, such as Splendour in the Grass, Woodford Folk Festival and Groovin the Moo, and her impressive live acts have amassed wide-spread praise.

Despite her young age, she has already opened for international superstar acts such as Cindy Lauper and Blondie. Of her most recent performance in Sydney, The Music reported that it "... will go down as one of the best concerts of the year, without a doubt." Craig Mathieson of the Sydney Morning Herald also had nothing but praise for the Australian Eurovision 2020 representative's musical style and performance: "Montaigne creates music that has a thrilling waywardness, baroque pomp and storm-the-stage energy".

READ MORE: Montaigne's participant profile

Montaigne's energetic live performance of Don't Break Me is paired with the song's engrossing melodies and challenging lyrics. Her song depicts the 'enough is enough' phase of a relationship breakdown, "where one person feels like they are putting much more time, energy and resources into the relationship than the other person and becomes frustrated and resentful," she said. "I wrote it while reading Codependent No More by Melody Beattie, which really informed the qualities of the character and the relationship dynamic."

Montaigne at home for Eurovision Home Concerts Montaigne

Montaigne recently featured in episode 2 of the Eurovision Home Concerts performing her Don't Break Me and a cover of Gjon's Tears' Répondez-moi. The episode also spotlighted past Eurovision contestants and fellow Eurovision 2020 representatives, including Jamala from Ukraine, Daði Freyr from Iceland, Vasil from North Macedonia, Leonora from Denmark, Aksel from Finland and Gjon’s Tears from Switzerland.

Montaigne has also been confirmed to represent Australia again in Eurovision 2021 for which she expressed her excitement for on the Australian broadcaster SBS's Facebook page. "I'm very keen to make new music, to produce a new song and figure out a new performance for next year," she said.

Montaigne took to her own Instagram page to spread some joy and togetherness by sharing a boomerang video giving herself a hug. "I pass it on from the wonderful @dadimakesmusic to the also wonderful for #hugforesc2020" she said. "...may it feel warm and cosy..." She went on to wish everyone well and expressed hope that her audience was happy, healthy and peaceful.

You can follow Montaigne on the following social media platforms:

LISTEN: Stream Don't Break Me and other Eurovision 2020 songs on Spotify

Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest

To commemorate the 60th Eurovision Song Contest in 2015, Australia was invited to participate for the first time and was meant to be a one-off event. This made Australia the first country from the Oceania region to participate in Eurovision and also the second country to participate in the Contest outside Eurasia, after Morocco entered in 1980. However, it was later confirmed in November 2015 that the country would return to the Contest in 2016. By early 2019, the EBU Associate Broadcaster SBS and production partner Bling TV secured Australia's participation as a competitor in Eurovision until 2023.

Australia previously used an internal selection to choose its representatives up until 2018. Dami Im is Australia's most successful Eurovision contestant thus far. Her song Sound Of Silence in 2016 won the jury vote, placed second overall and later won the Marcel Bezençon Award in the composer category.

Jessica Mauboy, Australia's Eurovision 2018 representative, also performed as the interval act in the Second Semi-Final of the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2014. The country changed to a televised national selection called Eurovision - Australia Decides in 2019.

Jessica Mauboy qualified for the final in 2018 EBU / Andres Putting

READ MORE: Australia's country page

Kate Miller-Heidke won the first edition of the new national selection format and went on to reach 9th place at the Eurovision 2019 Grand Final in Tel Aviv, with her song Zero Gravity scoring a total of 284 points. The contemporary pop, folk and opera singer trained her operatic voice at the Queensland Conservatorium.

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