Jeangu Macrooy will represent the Netherlands at Eurovision 2021 with his song “Birth Of A New Age”.
Jeangu was originally due to sing “Grow” at Eurovision 2020. However, the contest was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, just like several other countries, the Netherlands opted to stick with its singer for Eurovision 2021. “Birth Of A New Age” was debuted during a live TV performance in early March.
Now, we’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Jeangu Macrooy. Let’s do this!
The Netherlands at Eurovision 2021: Facts about Jeangu Macrooy
1. He’s from Suriname
Jeangu has only lived in the Netherlands for seven years. He was born in Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America. He relocated to Europe in 2014 to study at ArtEZ Popacademie in Enchede. The official language in Suriname is Dutch so Jeangu is fluent in the language. Many Surinamese people move to the Netherlands to work and study and have done so for decades. Jeangu’s father Jerrel even lived and worked in Amsterdam for some years before returning to Suriname and starting a family.
2. He has a twin brother
Not only is Jeangu very close to his twin brother Xillan — who is nine minutes younger — they are also very close when it comes to music and have a distinctive way of working together. According to their mother Jeannette, the boys have always had their own method of writing song lyrics, with that method developing through them drawing pictures as children. “They always used one sheet. One would draw from the left of the sheet, the other would draw from the right. And later on, this is how they would write songs and lyrics. One would start with a specific line, the other would do the next one and so on and so on, until a lyric was born”.
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3. He did everything with his brother until the age of 20
The brothers were separated for the first time when Jeangu moved to the Netherlands to study music. This was very difficult for both of them, especially Xillan. While Jeangu was following his passion, Xillan was left behind with no change. Luckily, they are now reunited as Xillan also moved to the Netherlands two years after Jeangu, to study at the same school. Xillan also has his own band called KOWNU. Their biggest fan is, of course, his brother.
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4. He’s out and proud and a big advocate for LGBT+ rights in his homeland
Despite being more open to the LGBT+ community than many of its neighbours, Jeangu admits that he felt a little trapped in Suriname. That was also a reason for him to move to the Netherlands, although his passion for music was the main focus. After coming out to his mother at the age of 17, he’s now determined to be a role model for young Surinamese people who may be afraid and confused about their sexual orientation. “I want to show them that its okay to be yourself, and if I can in any way help them through my music, I will”, he said. His mother Jeannette, who is and has always been very supportive of gay rights, says that she was not surprised at all, when Jeangu came out. She was even less surprised when his brother Xillan came out a year later. “They always had a flock of girls around them, but never any girlfriends, you know. And I’ve always said to them: “Be true to yourself”.
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5. Music has always been a big part of his life
Jeangu was raised in a very musical household, with his father listening mostly to Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. His mother blasted divas such as Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. Needless to say, both he and his brother found their passion in music very early on, and got their first guitars at the age of 13. They started their very first band while still in primary school. And although their parents supported their passion wholeheartedly, their father Jerrel admits he was worried, especially regarding Jeangu. “His dreams were really big. Maybe too big. He’s not much of a talker, but when he talked about even making it in the United States, I got a bit worried”.
6. He and Xillan used to communicate using a made-up accent
When the brothers attended the Conservatory of Suriname in 2011, Albert Arens, their artistic director spotted their talents instantly. But at the same time, he had to work to bring them out of their shells and communicate “normally” so to speak. “They had such deep, soulful and rich voices with an incredible reach! But they were very introverted and had a strange accent they had taught themselves. We had to fix that a little” said Albert. Made-up accent or not, the brothers have always been intertwined in music. A little over a year ago, they released their first official duet “Second Hand Lover”. Whether they wrote it, using their childhood quirk of a fake accent is unknown, but they truly fit together like strawberry and chocolate.
7. He had his first tour at the age of 17
The brothers started another band called Between Towers while attending the Conservatory of Suriname. With their father’s help, they would play gigs at small cafés around the capital. The band and all their equipment would cram into their father’s small Toyota Mark II to travel between gigs. However, because their band played mostly soul and rock, with the twins writing most of the material, the Surinamese public was less than impressed. The most popular music genres in the country were reggae, soca and kaseko. Music people could dance to. And because in Suriname it is believed that music is entertainment, not a profession, the public was also very reluctant to pay in order to listen to what the brothers had to offer. But Jeangu found redemption when his single “High on You” became an instant hit in Suriname.
8. He released one album with Between Towers
Jeangu and Xillan’s band Between Towers, which got its name from one of the twin’s friends as a playful tribute to their towering height, released one studio album in their native Suriname. The record was called Stars on my Radio but didn’t do all that well, despite sleek production and well written and performed songs. The public of Suriname just wasn’t ready for the Macrooy soul….yet.
9. He quickly made a name for himself in the Netherlands
After leaving his family at the age of twenty, to study music, it didn’t take long for Jeangu to make it. Shortly after his arrival to the Netherlands, he met Perquisite, a producer and composer who immediately spotted Jeangu’s pure talent. The producer signed Jeangu up with his record label Unexpected Records. The road from there on was wide open for Jeangu, for he shot to fame almost instantly and has played his music on several Dutch festivals, as well as in Belgium and Germany. He has been nominated twice for the Edison Awards, which are the Dutch version of the Grammy Awards. He’s also had a number of successful singles, such as “Gold” which was used in an HBO advertisement for Game of Thrones.
10. He’s a reading coach
Jeangu is a jack-of-all-trades. He is a singer, songwriter and painter, but he also loves up to dive into a book once in a while. And in 2020, Jeangu was named one of three “reading coaches” that will encourage Dutch school students to pick up a book. Alongside rappers Famke Louise and Dio, Jeangu is challenging kids to read three books in six months. The campaign runs from November 2020 until May 2021. Jeangu’s choices are Confettiregen by Splinter Chabot, Leugenaar leugenaar by Herman van de Wijdeven and Echte Amerikaanse jongens (All Americans Boys) by Jason Reynolds.
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Bonus fact – How to pronounce Jeangu
For the first syllable, think of the common French name Jean. Perhaps the fashion designer (and Eurovision superfan) Jean Paul Gaultier, or Monaco’s Eurovision 1969 singer Jean-Jacques. As for the second syllable, Jeangu recommends thinking of other words that rhyme with it, like the Dutch words paraplu (umbrella), menu (menu!), jus (juice), tenue (uniform). We wouldn’t necessarily recommend that English speakers use these examples, due to differences in pronunciation. But Jean also threw in a few French words that might be more helpful. The final syllable of deja vu and the French greeting salut will set you in the right direction. Just think of Jeangu and his French friend and you’ll be good. Jeangu also recorded a public service announcement to make it easier for people to get the pronunciation right.
Can Jeangu take home another Dutch win? Are you excited to see him in May? Let us know in the comments.