Jan Smit is one of the three main hosts for Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light — the EBU’s replacement show for Eurovision 2020.
While he may be a familiar face for Dutch audiences, much of Europe and Australia will only be meeting him for the first time.
So, we’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Jan Smit. Let’s do this!
Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light — Facts about Jan Smit
1. He was a child star
The Netherlands first heard of Jan when he was just 10 years old. The Dutch band BZN discovered his singing talent and decided to perform a duet with him: “Mama”. At this point, his artist name was still Jantje Smit — Jantje can be translated as ‘little Jan’. Later, he would lose the name and go simply by Jan.
After this duet, BZN would produce more numbers for him, including the “Ik zing dit lied voor jou alleen” (I Sing This Song For You Alone). It entered the Dutch charts immediately at number one, staying in the top spot for seven weeks. The song is a homage to his deceased grandmother.
2. He’s from city of Volendam
Jan hails from the village of Volendam, in the province of North-Holland. Volendam is a harbour-village, located directly on the lake Markermeer. The village is known for many things, particularly for its singing talent. Besides Jan, BZN — the band who discovered him — also come from the village.
BZN are considered important interpreters of the Dutch genre Palingsound or Palingpop. This genre is typical for artists from the village of Volendam. Jan is considered to be in the same genre of music. The name refers to the fish ‘Paling’ — catching this fish was an important economic activity for Volendam. As the village produced so many singers, it developed this genre of its own.
3. He’s a member of both KLubb3 and The Toppers
Jan is not only a solo singer. He is also active in two different bands. The first is The Toppers — Yes, the same group that participated in Eurovision 2009 with “Shine“. However, Jan wasn’t part of the group then. He joined in 2017.
Jan is also part of KLUBBB3. This is a schlager band with three singers from three different countries. The other two are Christoff De Bolle (Belgium) and Florian Silbereisen (Germany). The band is best known for German schlager songs, but they also have a couple of tracks in English and Dutch. They are popular in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland. So far, they’ve released three albums: Vorsicht unzensiert!, Jetzt geht’s richtig los! and Wir werden immer mehr Ho-Dio-Di-Jee.
4. He’s a TV host
Next to singing, Jan is also a familiar face on television. He has presented hows such as Beste Zangers, Gouden Televizier-Ring Gala, and Muziekfeest. Since 2011, Jan has been the Dutch Eurovision commentator, along with Cornald Maas. In the clip below, you can watch Jan’s reaction, after Duncan Laurence won Eurovision 2019 for The Netherlands. Jan Smit was deeply emotional while Cornald Maas kept talking to the viewers.
5. He retains strong ties to his homeplace
Jan’s ties with Volendam remain strong. He still lives there and is very much of part of the village’s public life. For starters, he is on the board of the local football team FC Volendam. This team plays in the second-highest division — the Keuken Kampioen Divisie. Jan takes care of general affairs, including fundraising, sponsorhip, marketing and PR. Jan Smit originally started at the club as a shirt-sponsor. He also wrote a song for the club — “Alles In Mij” (Everything In Me). It came about after he lost a bet — if Jack Tuijp could score 25 goals in one season, Jan had to write a new song. Jack scored his 25th goal in the match against AGOVV on 4 April 2008.
Next to this, Jan also owns real estate in Volendam and he is co-owner of a restaurant. If you are a Jan Smit fan (or if you just like food) and want to visit his restaurant, you can dine or wine in Jan’s Lotje Wine & Dine, located at the village’s harbour.
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Woensdag vanaf 17:00 uur op de ‘break’: Sliptong met remouladesaus, Varkenshaas met champignon, ui, paprika en pepersaus, Mini hamburger met rode ui compote, truffel, spek en kaas en natuurlijk frites, mayonaise en groene salade. €12,50 p.p. Reserveren kan via 0299-320702 of via een persoonlijk bericht op Facebook. Tot woensdag! #breakvandeweek #lotjewinedine
6. He has a ship named after him
Not many people can say this, but Jan actually has a boat named after him. Volendam’s shipping company Volendam Marken Express called one of its four boats after the singer. Volendam Marken Express organises a tourist-ferry boat line from Volendam to Marken and back. Next to that, they rent their fleet for all kinds of events and arrangements. The Jan Smit is its flagship, meaning this boat takes a sort of lead in the fleet. It can hold up to 250 people and the VIP deck can hold 25. The Jan Smit is mostly rented out for company events and private celebrations.
7. He has released 27 albums
Despite his relatively young age, he’s is 34, Jan has been releasing music since forever, or so it seems. In 2016, he celebrated his 20-year anniversary in the industry. Over that period of time, he released 29 albums (including records with The Toppers and Klubbb3). Almost 50 of his songs have charted in the Dutch charts. His latest album Met Andere Woorden was released in September 2018.
8. He’s also an actor
Next to singer and presenter, Jan is also an actor. He played a side role in the Dutch series Flikken Maastricht. But his big debut as an actor was the leading role in the movie Het Bombardement (The Bombardment). The film is a Dutch production from 2012 that tells the story of a young couple during World War II. Jan played the leading role of Vincent De Graaf, a boxing talent that falls in love with Eva. The movie received the De Gouden Film prize, an honour awarded to films that attract 100,000 or more cinema viewers.
9. His sister Monique is also a singer and presenter.
Jan’s sister Monique is also active in the world of showbiz. The public first met Monique Smit when she was part of the real-life docu-soap Gewoon Jan Smit (Just Jan Smit). The show was broadcast in The Netherlands, Germany and Austria. From then on, she came to be in the spotlight much more. She has released four albums and charted with 15 songs in the Dutch charts. Next to that she has also presented shows like Zapp Kids Top 20, Wild van Muziek and BUMA NL Awards.
10. His Eurovision involvement goes beyond commentary
Jan Smit has been around in for a while in Eurovision. As mentioned, he has been a Eurovision TV commentator for the Dutch broadcast AVROTROS since 2011. Next to that, he also has been a member of the Dutch selection comitteeé for Eurovision. He was the one who publicly announced they would try to get OG3NE. Once the discussion began as to who should host Eurovision in The Netherlands, Jan’s name was immediately high on the list.
Are you excited to see Jan during Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light? Let us know in the comments.