Last year San Marino imported Turkish television personality Serhat to sing at Eurovision, and the year before they drafted in Italian Michele Perniola.
And on Sunday Eurovision’s smallest country revealed that it has looked abroad again, announcing that its biggest jazz star Valentina Monetta will partner with the American singer Jimmie Wilson at Eurovision 2017.
Information is still emerging about the handsome crooner, but so far we know that he honed his voice in gospel choirs as a child, before studying acting in Hollywood. Born in Detroit, he had his first major lead role in the musical “Sisterella” — produced by Michael Jackson. He’s also performed with the likes of DJ BoBo, The Weather Girls and Lionel Ritchie. That’s what we call A-list!
Jimmie, who currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany, has also competed on the Polish singing show Must Be The Music. During the third season in 2012 he performed songs including “SexyBack” and “Sex Bomb” — suggesting a strong affinity for songs that mention sex.
But muscular Jimmie isn’t the first American to grace the Eurovision stage. In honour of his imminent participation, we take a look at 14 Americans who came before him.
Tamar Kaprelian (Armenia 2015)
Birthplace: Scottsdale, Arizona
Her parents are British-born Armenians, but she grew up in Arizona, Georgia and California. Now in drastically colder New York, she continues to release music — including the recent “Sareri Hovin Mernem” — and also runs a summer program for Armenian young people through her Nvak Foundation. In 2015 she competed as part of Armenia’s Genealogy’s. Most importantly, she won Eurovision’s Next Top Model, solidifying her place in the pantheon of Eurovision greats. We weren’t surprised at all when Vogue decided to cover her recent wedding…
Katrina Leskanich (UK 1997)
Birthplace: Topeka, Kansas
Katrina lived all over America, Germany, and the Netherlands before finally settling in Norfolk in the UK at the age of sixteen. She’s been a UK resident for forty years.
Kalomira (Greece 2008)
Birthplace: Hempstead, New York
Despite her extremely Greek first name, Kalomira is a Long Island girl – inside and out. Her parents are immigrants who own a restaurant.
Oscar Loya and Dita von Teese (Germany 2009)
Birthplace: Indio, California
Oscar is a Cali boy who currently lives in Munich. Dita, however, is of German heritage but is American-born and lives in America.
Kim Cooper of the Rounder Girls (Austria 2000)
Birthplace: Long Island, New York
Kim isn’t Austrian. However, the trio she was in did have an Austrian member.
Andras Kallay-Saunders (Hungary 2014)
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York
Born and raised in New York City, he moved to Hungary in his early twenties to join his grandmother and later auditioned for the show Megasztar.
Jeanne Manson (Luxembourg 1979)
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio
A former Playboy model, she lived in France throughout the 1970s with her then-husband, a film producer.
Isis Gee (Poland 2008)
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington
Born Tamara Gee, she is of Polish descent, but lives between Los Angeles and Italy.
Hannah Mancini (Slovenia 2013)
Birthplace: Fresno, California
Originally from a town equidistant from Los Angeles and Las Vegas, she moved to Slovenia to be with her husband.
Annet Artani (Cyprus 2006)
Birthplace: Queens, New York
She actually used to be Britney Spears’ BFF and backing vocalist. Annet has no ethnic connection to Cyprus, as her family came from Greece almost one hundred years ago.
Wess (Italy 1975)
Birthplace: North Carolina
Wess moved from North Carolina to Italy in the 1960s in order to pursue a musical career.
Natalia Kelly (Austria 2013)
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut
Born to an Austrian father, Natalia moved to Austria from America at the age of six.
Debbie Cameron (Denmark 1981)
Birthplace: Miami, Florida
Debbie moved to Denmark in 1978 to join her mother, a jazz singer who had settled in Copenhagen after losing her passport in East Germany.
Do you think more American singers should compete for their ancestral countries in Eurovision? Who is your favorite singer from America who has competed? Comment below!