Serhat will represent San Marino at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv with his song “Say Na Na Na”. It’s an uplifting anthem which he delivers with his signature sound — something deep, resonant, and, dare we say, a tad sexy.
San Marinese broadcaster SMRTV chose Serhat through an internal selection process. After last year’s unsuccessful dalliance with a national final format, the network will be hoping for its first Eurovision qualification since 2014.
Serhat made his first Eurovision appearance in 2016 when he performed “I Didn’t Know” in Stockholm, also for San Marino.
But this Turkish star has a long and fruitful career which involves many other things. With Eurovision 2019 just around the corner, here are 10 facts about San Marino’s Serhat. Let’s do this!
1. He trained as a dentist
Like a lot of people, Serhat set himself up with a sensible profession. He trained at the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Istanbul. But he soon felt the call of showbiz, put down the dental floss and picked up a microphone.
2. He brought Jeopardy to Turkey
In the 1990s, Serhat was both the producer and presenter of Riziko, the Turkish version of the iconic American game show Jeopardy. The series became the highest rated Turkish quiz show and earned Serhat Best TV Presenter and Best TV Producer awards two years in a row.
3. He founded his own song contest
Serhat is all about sharing his talents and nurturing the next generation. In 1997, he founded the Turkey-based National and International High Schools Music Contest. His official bio notes that he has “since then been guiding and coaching young talented musicians.” Bonus fact: wiwiblogger Deban was a guest judge at the contest in 2017.
4. He duetted with a Eurovision host…
In 2004, Serhat released the sensual duet “Total Disguise”, performed with the French singer Viktor Lazlo. She took her stage name from Victor Laszlo, a character in the iconic film Casablanca. Viktor Lazlo was also the host of Eurovision 1987 in Brussels.
5. …and duetted with a Eurovision winner
Fourteen years later, Serhat recorded a new version of “Total Disguise”. This time, the sensual duet was performed with Greece’s Eurovision 2005 winner Helena Paparizou. The song included a video shot in an exotic coastal location, with Serhat and Helena taking in the scenic pleasures.
6. He listens to his fans
In 2016, the reaction was lukewarm when Serhat released the original version of his Eurovision entry “I Didn’t Know”. But then Serhat released a number of remixes and one caught everyone’s attention. The disco version got fans excited and started a grassroots campaign — led by super fan Elaine — for San Marino to switch genre. Serhat and San Marino listened and changed their entry to the disco version.
7. He had a Billboard hit
In 2017, Serhat released a remix of his Eurovision song “I Didn’t Know” with guest vocals from disco diva Martha Wash — one half of “It’s Raining Men” hitmakers The Weather Girls. The song went on to reach No.25 on the American Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. The countdown isn’t based on sales, but it is a sign that “I Didn’t Know” was being played in the nightclubs and discotheques of the US.
8. He loves his fans
After Eurovision 2016, Serhat produced a special “I Didn’t Know” video with highlights from Stockholm. As well as featuring scenes from The Globe Arena and Euroclub, the clip also shows snapshots of Serhat with Eurovision stars, delegation members and of course his supportive fans. There are some wiwibloggers in there too!
9. He performed at the inaugural Wiwi Jam
The first ever Wiwi Jam took place at the Hard Rock Cafe in Stockholm. Serhat was part of the line-up, where he performed the original, chilled-out version of “I Didn’t Know”, along with his jaunty 2014 single “Je m’adore”.
10. He came very close to qualifying in Stockholm
San Marino placed 12th in the first semi-final of Eurovision 2016, but the micro state wasn’t far off making the lucky top ten. “I Didn’t Know” placed 11th with the public and was only five points away from making the televote top ten. It was the jury score that kept San Marino out of the overall top ten, but could things be different this time around?