GPB confirms jazz group Iriao will represent Georgia at Eurovision 2018

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As the ESC250 2017 countdown was reaching its climax, many of us were settling down to welcome in the new year and get ready for what Eurovision surprises lie ahead in 2018. But Georgia‘s First Channel (1TV) had one more gift for us in 2017. The broadcaster revealed that the jazz group Iriao will represent Georgia at Eurovision 2018 in Lisbon.

Iriao is described as creating “unique music which is a mix of jazz and Georgian ethno folk”. The group’s name comes from the phrase “Iriao-uruao”, which relates to the Georgian yodelling singing style Krimanchuli.

The band was originally founded by David Malazonia in 2013. The band leader is considered to be one of the first Georgian composers to combine the genres of jazz and Georgian folk together. David also has a busy career as a composer. For the past 30 years he has written for artist and bands in both Georgia and Germany, and has composed for TV and theatre productions. And now he will be able to add Eurovision to his resume.

Iriao currently has seven members: David Malazonia (composer, keys, arranger and leader), Nugzar Kavtaradze (Georgian folk instruments), Levan Abshilava (drums, percussion), Shalva Gelekva (bass), George Abashidze (vocals), Mikheil Javakhishvili (vocals) and Bidzina Murgulia (vocals).

Unfortunately, with the six-person limit at Eurovision, this means that at least one member will have to remain off-stage when they reach the Altice Arena.

The artist announcement from Georgia comes as a bit of a surprise. Many fans had assumed the country would host another national final. Even Junior Eurovision 2017 co-host Helen Kalandadze was planning on entering.

The no-frills internal selection comes as a stark contrast to last year’s extravagant national final. Twenty-five acts competed at the event, which was seen as an audition of sorts for the role of hosting Junior Eurovision 2017.

In 2016, indie rock band Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz were internally selected by GPB, but had their song chosen by public vote.

The selection of a jazz-ethno-folk group was perhaps inspired by Salvador Sobral’s win with the gentle, jazz-inspired “Amar pelos dois”, and his victory speech rallying against “fast food music”.

This isn’t the first time Georgia has send a jazz group to Eurovision. In 2014, the jazz fusion group The Shin performed “Three Minutes to Earth” along with the jazz singer Mariko Ebralidze. They placed last in their semi-final, with only 15 points.

Georgia will be hoping that Iriao will be be able to return them to the Eurovision final, after Tamara Gachechiladze’s fiery performance of “Keep The Faith” ultimately stalled in the semi-final in Kyiv.

There are no details on when the group’s song for Lisbon will be released, however it is not expected that Swedish maestro Thomas G:son will be involved with revamping the Georgian entry this year.

What do you think of Georgia’s choice for Lisbon? Are you excited to hear their mix of jazz and Georgian ethno-folk? Do you think Iriao can bring Georgia back to the grand final? Let us know in the comments below!

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Photo Credit: 1TV