Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we’ve had a lot of time to scroll through Instagram and YouTube. And as we dive into lots of new music, we’re also re-visiting some of our Eurovision favourites. So you’ll understand our joy when we saw that Ireland’s Eimear Quinn — the winner of Eurovision 1996 — recently re-released her winning song “The Voice”. But, as she says on her web site, it’s not just any re-release: “It’s is the first-ever fully orchestral recording of this iconic song.”

Yup. Eimear has re-recorded her classic song with the prestigious RTE Concert Orchestra. The result is “The Voice 2020″ — an epic and lush re-working that’s sure to give you all the feels. It will delight her many long-time fans while drawing in plenty of new ones. Some of you may have had the pleasure to hear “The Voice 2020” already. Eimear performed it at the Het Grote Songfestivalfeest in Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome back in December.

Eimear, who is now based in Geneva with her family, recently caught up with Wiwibloggs to discuss the song — which is the first on an upcoming album of orchestral songs.

Eimear Quinn sings “The Voice 2020” LIVE in Amsterdam

Can you explain to folks why it feels different to record with a live orchestra? Besides the amazing sound, does it also impact how you perform?

It absolutely impacts how I perform it! There’s an energy and drive to the song no matter what the line-up, but the sheer amount of human energy combined in an orchestra is something else. It takes the performance experience to another level, as we all collectively build towards the last final chord. It’s explosive! The particular orchestra in question is also full of many personal friends with whom I’ve had the privilege to work with for quite a while, so to record and release it is like a dream come true. It’s the first song from a full album of orchestral songs, so there’s lots more to come.

A lot of our followers are quite young and may have only discovered Eurovision in the past decade or so. For those who are enjoying “The Voice” for the first time, could you tell them what the song is about and the perspective or character you take on when singing it? I always imagine you as Mother Nature or a Celtic forest goddess!

I’ve heard from a lot of listeners in recent times who were only born around the time of this song’s victory, but somehow the song still makes a connection with them. I think that it has a timeless quality to it, and even more so now with the orchestral version. It’s pretty mesmeric to experience it as a singer.

The message is incredibly powerful. The origin of the lyric is in the elements of our nation, and the idea that our past is forever entwined with our land and our people, but that we have the power not to be limited by it. We have the power to design our own future. Eurovision 1996 was before the Peace Accord in Northern Ireland (1998) and the song spoke of the healing that could come from peace. I feel it in every pore when I sing it, like I am possessed by the pure might of our combined Irishness and I am so struck by the power that can be conjured up by a people who stand united, despite their differences.

You perform in lots of big venues, but did the big Eurovision concert in Ziggo Dome feel somehow special or different?

Yes, it did.The last big Eurovision event that I performed at was the anniversary in Denmark (2005) and just look at how the whole thing has changed since then.

In my view Eurovision remains vibrant and relevant because of the fans. In the last decade in particular the changes in the way we communicate mean that everyone gets a say, and the fans have a lot to say! That is one LOUD voice, igniting enormous excitement year after year, in the build-up and the wind-down. I thought the Dutch broadcaster did brilliantly in understanding that, and embracing the love that the fans have for the contest. Creating that event was so memorable, because it was all about the fans. I’m truly devastated for anyone who will lose out due to recent events, I’m hoping that there will be a silver lining.

Eurovision has truly been a gift in my life. I have always said it. I hope it will be to these artists too, even though it seems so tough right now.

Thanks for the lovely insights, Eimear!

You can stream the song on all platforms on this “The Voice 2020” linkBe sure to follow Eimear on the various music platforms so you’ll be alerted the moment new music comes out. You can also follow her on Instagram @eimearvox.

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Stephanie
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Stephanie

My God if you still can sing this song at the same level as I think 23 years ago…. Speechless.,really… I think it sounds even better… Huge respect…

Princess Peregrine
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Princess Peregrine

A timeless classic. My favourite that year and probably my favourite Irish entry ever (although so many to choose from). Great to hear this again after so many years – listen to that audience roar at the end. Beautiful.

Purple Mask
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Purple Mask

Oh wow, this is great! Amazing to see her again after all these years! Imagine if she came back to ESC one day…

Richard
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Richard

What a wonderful interpretation of her song, and it’s great to see how fond Eimear is of the contest. Now we just need Gina G to polish up her song.

Teddy
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Teddy

Just when I thought I couldn’t love this song any more!

Joe
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Joe

Not every day I get to have a very pleasant conversation with a Eurovision winner! And the new recording is terrific as well!

Frida
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Frida

Sweden was the real winner that year!

Piment
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Piment

Now, this is quality! Not what we have today.

Jonas
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Jonas

How nice that she says the contest was a gift in her life. I’m sure it’s true in more ways than one, considering she married the Irish HoD, and even had a couple of Eurovision babies. I wonder how she feels about the cancellation this year, seeing as her husband is now the director-general of the EBU, Jon Ola’s boss.

HarpyDarper
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HarpyDarper

Lovely to hear this again, definitely one of the best Irish entries. I’ve been looking for a while for a later performance of this song, all I could find was the snip from Congratulations 2005. I’d say it’s by far the most genuine example of this type of music we’ve seen at the contest, especially compared with the bland 2014 entry (in which these elements felt tacked on). I know Dervish we originally going to perform this, I’d be interested in hearing their rendition. If Eimear reads this I was wondering; was she present at the 1997 contest? I’ve never… Read more »

Joe
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Joe

If you watch on YouTube, she briefly pops up at the end to pass the trophy on to Katrina, but the camera doesn’t focus on her for long.

HarpyDarper
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HarpyDarper

Ah, there she is. It’s sweet that one of Ms. Einstein (Dutch entry) hugs Katrina, and don’t seem at all bothered by their own low score

Joe
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Joe

Yeah, those were the days. Everyone in the green room having a good time regardless of how they were scoring. The champagne probably helped. (Well, OK, I say this when Tor Endressen and Vania Fernandes were probably feeling pretty miserable, but the rest seemed to be having a good time.)

Joe
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Joe

My favorite story related to that is that two years in a row, John Coleman (the British conductor) and Noel Kelehan (the famous Irish conductor) spent the entire voting procedure chatting with each other completely unaware that their respective countries were winning until someone let them know that they had to go back and lead the orchestra. (The first was in ’80, the second in ’81).

Jonas
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Jonas

Yeah, she was there, you can see her at the end with the trophy.

Jonas
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Jonas

Sorry, I didn’t refresh the page in time to see Joe’s response.

EimearVox
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Hello! Yes, I presented the award. It was a fun night!

Joe
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Joe

Hi Eimear! Thank you so much for all the amazing music you’ve given us over the years! Like I said before, yours is as high-quality as Irish entries come, and I’m glad that you’re still fond of it after all this time. And don’t listen to the naysayers – I didn’t notice any nerves in the performance. You overcame some stiff competition in a great year and gave us a classic Eurovision song. While we’re discussing geeky anecdotes, though, I’ve gotta admit I’m curious about one thing: what was it like working on the 50th anniversary special back in 2005?… Read more »

PP77
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PP77

For me Ireland was so overrated that year. For me better song had Norway, Sweden,Portugal, The Netherlands,,Poland,UK,Croatia,Malta,Greece,Cyprus

EimearVox
Guest

I personally loved Turkey in 96

Joe
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Joe

I’d say all those songs in addition to The Voice. Very few songs I outright dislike in ’96, and a whole load of classics. My personal top ten:
1. Ireland
2. Austria
3. Portugal
4. Sweden
5. Greece
6. Turkey
7. United Kingdom
8. Cyprus
9. France
10. Estonia
With honorable mentions to Croatia, Finland (should’ve scored way better than it did), Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Slovenia. Only songs I’d rank below at least a 7/10 are Malta, Spain, and Slovakia, and even they’re not so bad.

Hellohi
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Hellohi

First time I ever watched Eurovision was 1996 .. I was about 7 years old and my country won .. this is a great entry but Eimear does sound breathless sometimes

Polegend Godgarina
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the way croatia and estonia were robbed by this in 1996…

Joe
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Joe

I like Estonia’s song but Croatia didn’t deserve to get anywhere near the top five

Ivar
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Ivar

I agree wholeheartedly with Polegend Godgarina

Kim
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Kim

I never liked this song but revisiting again because of this post made me realise what a good song it actually was. We concentrate so much on the contemporary tunes, we forget what other classics are out there.

Stian F
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Stian F

Beautiful song and such a beautiful woman she is. She has ages amazingly well ? in 1996 this was my favorite song of the year, but when i rewatched Eurovision 1996 recently i didnt feel it had aged as well as “I Evighet” which came second… But then again, neither of them managed to reach the popularity of the big song of the 90s, “Ooh Ah”. Such a hit!!!!! “Ooh Ah (Just A Little Bit)” is probably the Euphoria of the 90s….except for the fact that the performance was weak…. I guess showsongs like Ooh Ah really needs a LED-stage… Read more »

Moonstar
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Moonstar

Love the song, but I feel no pleasure listening to a singer who struggles to sing a song. Eimeer’s lack of breathing technique is appalling! Has she ever heard of singing lessons?! It’s like listening to an out of tune instrument! 🙁

Donkey
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Donkey

You are clearly an uneducated hater who is trying to sound like a vocal coach.

Milan
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Milan

I’d like to hear you singing.

Leichhardtlad
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Leichhardtlad

Maybe you should try spelling her name properly ………

EimearVox
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Even though your comment is unnecessarily unkind, you do have a point about my 1996 performance. I suffered from debilitating nerves at the beginning of my career. The fact that I’ve overcome this gives me such joy. I urge you to watch the new version (that being the point of the feature) If you still feel then same way, then I’d consider listening to the other comments if I were you. (thanks for having my back guys!!)
X
Eimear (spelled E I M E A R. Rhymes with dreamer)

Joe
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Joe

I would never have known! Don’t bother with this guy. I’d like to see him smash a Celtic ballad in front of 200 million viewers with a full orchestra backing him up. (Also, sorry for more questions, but was Noel Kelehan as nice a guy as he seemed? Must’ve been cool working with him.)

Donkey
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Donkey

I love that! Thank you for making this hater look like a fool. I love it when artists do that

Jessica P
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Jessica P

So I never actually noticed the nerves from ’96 — for whatever reason, that vibe just fits with the delicate atmosphere. Sounds great in 2020 too. So very clearly the right song won!

lebruit
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lebruit

Wow. I think she, like the song, has aged beautifully! Truely a timeless melody.

Darren
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Darren

My favorite Irish Eurovision winner. Also Ireland’s last victory in the contest, and my very first Eurovision memory as a 4 year old was watching Ireland win in Oslo.
This s song means so much to me and is a joy to listen to, even now

Kovalska
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Kovalska

One of the most beautiful songs in Eurovision history 🙂 I think it’s a little bit underrated unfortunaly, for me it’s a masterpiece.

Joe
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Joe

Capped off an amazing run of entries for Ireland. Either this or “Rock and Roll Kids” is the best entry they ever sent. Depends on my mood. Also the best song of the best year in the history of the contest.

JDS
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JDS

As an (Irish) teenager in ’94, I didn’t like “Rock & Roll Kids” at all. I mean, I appreciated the quality, but I wanted a fun, upbeat song to win (so in ’94, it was Germany I supported). Now I’m almost 40, I do think “Rock & Roll Kids” is a great song, which deserved its win.

Joe
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Joe

I just find it glorious how a song everyone thought was deliberately chosen to end Ireland’s winning streak turned into a real-life “Springtime for Hitler” situation, with the highest score ever achieved for a winning song up to that point (no country ever got more than 193 points before and Ireland waltzed away with 226!).

HarpyDarper
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HarpyDarper

It may have been a load of tabloid hype at the time (I’m too young to remember), but was it Rock and Roll Kids or Dreamin’ (1995, accused of plagerism) that was supposedly chosen NOT to win? Is either one an inspiration of ‘My Lovely Horse’ in Father Ted?

Joe
Guest
Joe

As I follow it:
– Rock and Roll Kids was picked not to win, and it backfired
– Dreamin’ was picked as even more unlikely to win, and it succeeded
– According to Wikipedia, though, it was the first one that inspired Father Ted’s brilliant send-up (now and forever the best Eurovision parody).
– And then, a month after the Father Ted episode, Ireland wins Eurovision again! (And moreover, in a funny bit of symmetry, they did refer to it as “Eurosong” just for that year.)

JDS
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JDS

Why did NRK insist on referring to it as “Eurosong” in 1996? I’m glad it didn’t catch on.

Joe
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Joe

First step towards appealing to a younger crowd, I suppose, along with the fresh look. Lots of stuff from that year that never caught on (the good-luck messages, the virtual background for the voting, the pre-selection round…).

Joe
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Joe

I know! It was so cool to find that out. ESC 88 also happens to be one of the best-shot Eurovisions ever, so kudos to him.

JDS
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JDS

Dreamin’ was a horrible, horrible song. They really couldn’t have picked a song less likely to win. And even better, it was drawn to perform 2nd. They really what they could to stop it doing well.

Joe
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Joe

I dunno. I quite like it. My kind of music. But yeah, nothing about it made it stand a chance of winning. None of the emotional resonance of Rock and Roll Kids, national heritage of The Voice, or show-stopping performances of In Your Eyes and Why Me. But very pleasant, with a lovely orchestration.