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Raphael Gualazzi (Italy) 1st press conference

07 May 2011 at 20:01 CEST

The first rehearsal was “absolutely exciting” for the artist and his band. “It’s marvellous to be here for Italy, and this was only an appetizer of what’s to come,” says the entrant who’s also the Newcomer Prize winner of the famed San Remo Festival.

Likewise, Delegation Head Nicola Caligiore is happy to be back, as he says. Italy is planning on staying in the event. “We are one of the founding countries of the Eurovision Song Contest, so it cannot afford not to be part of it,” he points out. However, the continued participation depends on the TV audience’s response to the show. “We haven’t been in the event for a long time, so the main problem is that it’s not so well-known.”

Asked how the Italian national television broadcaster Rai wishes to promote the Eurovision Song Contest, Caligiore says that the public needs to be educated about the event. “The Eurovision is young and different compared to 1997. We want to hype it because we want the people to stay.”

Rai will be airing a show to support the event, hosted by record producer Bob Sinclar as well as singer and talk show host Raffaella Carrà. “They will lead the viewers through the Eurovision, explaining the rules of the competition.” The show will not interfere with the original format of the event, the Delegation Head points out.

Raphael Gualazzi will certainly be enjoying himself here. “This is a great opportunity for me to play my music and also for collaborations or even jam sessions with other artists. The competition is great because music and musicians come together here,” says the pianist and singer, whose greatest influences include Mary Lou Williams, Count Basie, Queen and Led Zeppelin. “I like to mix genres and metrics. Jazz was once very popular and that’s what it should be again.” Good luck to Raphael, good luck to Italy!