Montaigne was due to represent Australia at the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam with their song “Don’t Break Me”.
SBS selected Montaigne through its national selection Eurovision: Australia Decides. She emerged victorious from a field of ten very talented finalists.
Both heart breaking and radio-friendly, “Don’t Break Me” was co-written by Montaigne alongside Anthony Egizii and David Musumeci. ”
And now we’ve compiled 10 facts with all you need to know about Montaigne. Let’s do this!
Australia at Eurovision 2020: 10 facts about Montaigne
1. She comes from a diverse background
Montaigne was born Jessica Alyssa Cerro in Sydney on 14 August 1995. She has an incredibly diverse background. Sharing a picture of her great grandparents from the French side of her family, Montaigne states that her “ethnic background is a mixture of Argentinian, Spanish, Filipino and French.”
2. She started out young
Jessica’s first-ever performance was in year seven when she would have been about 12 years old. It was for Grandparents Day and she sang “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan. Fast forward five years and Jessica had become Jess Cerro for her first-ever gig. Her first show as Montaigne would come a couple of years later when she opened for the Australian indie-pop band San Cisco in Adelaide.
3. She finished school first
Despite showing such early talent, Montaigne waited until she finished high school before pursuing her music career. In November 2012, she signed a publishing deal with Albert Music and spent the following two years refining her songwriting skills under the guidance of Australian keyboardist, producer, songwriter Michael Szumowski.
4. Her stage name comes from a 16th-century philosopher
The name Montaigne is inspired by the 16th century philosopher and essayist Michel de Montaigne. He is considered to be one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance. He is best known for popularising the essay as a literary genre. Shortly after completing her High School Certificate, Montaigne began recording her debut EP with ARIA-nominated producer, writer and composer Tony Buchen.
5. She released her first single in 2014
Montaigne released her first single “I Am Not An End” in 2014. She also signed a management and recording deal with Wonderlick Entertainment. The year after, Montaigne won FBi Radio’s Next Big Thing Award at its annual SMAC Awards, which recognises the musicians, artists, performers, restaurants and events that shaped the Sydney’s creative culture in 2014.
6. She’s cracked the charts
Montaigne had a big year in 2016. In April, she hit the limelight when she was a featured vocalist on Hilltop Hoods’ track, “1955”. It reached number two on the ARIA Singles Chart. In August, Montaigne’s star continued to rise with the release of her debut album Glorious Heights. It got to number four on the ARIA Albums Chart. Montaigne finished the year by winning Breakthrough Artist – Release at the ARIA Music Awards and was nominated in three other categories.
7. She knows how to make a memorable acceptance speech
At the 2016 ARIA ceremony, Montaigne made headlines for her acceptance speech. She quoted Montaigne (the philosopher) and talked about her bowel movements.
“My old mate, the real Montaigne, a French philosopher from centuries ago, once said a thing which was. Well, it was that … On the highest throne in the world we still sit only on our bottoms.”
“I must remember that … For the rest of my life I will probably eject at least three loads out of my butt every week, at least three times, and along with others. Like a million other humans at the same time. I am human, like everyone else, and I must stay modest. This is just a thing.”
Say what you want, our girl is original!
8. She has an eclectic mix of musical inspirations
Montaigne says her music inspirations are Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and Björk. She tells HappyMagTV. “I watch those guys, I steal from people essentially and try to pull inspiration and technique from them. So it’s just progressed by observing and copying while trying to mix it with some original inspiration too.”
9. She’s an activist
Montaigne is an activist and regularly takes a stand on important issues. For instance, she took a very public stance against the Indian mining giant Adani at the 2018 ARIA Awards. She walked the red carpet in a feathered gown with ‘STOP ADANI’ written across her cheeks in a reference to the company’s proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland.
10. She prefers to leave the drama on stage
Though Montaigne has a penchant for drama on stage she says that she is quite different off it. She tells HappyMagTv: “I’m not an OTT kind of character. Actually, I wouldn’t even say I’m a character at all, it all happens on stage then in real life I’m pretty normal and chilled. Sometimes I’m a little bit too uptight with everything, like my health and making sure I get nine hours of sleep each night and not going out because I might talk too much and ruin my vocals. Just little things like that, but I’m working on it.”
Eurovision 2021 update
Are you excited to see what Montaigne brings next year? Let us know in the comments.