Lesley Roy will represent Ireland at Eurovision 2021 with “Maps”.
Lesley was originally due to sing “Story Of My Life” at Eurovision 2020. However, the contest was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, just like several other countries, Ireland opted to retain its singer for 2021. Her entry “Maps” was released at the end of February.
Let’s take a look at 10 facts you need to know about Lesley Roy. Let’s do this!
Ireland at Eurovision 2021: Facts about Lesley Roy
1. She got into music very young
Lesley comes from a musical background. Her mother had been in bands and regularly played records by Fleetwood Mac and Motown acts at home. Lesley was about ten when she got her first guitar. And she started to write her own songs almost immediately. This was in the early to mid-2000s, so she was heavily influenced by the rock-pop female artists of the time, like Avril Lavigne. She started entering competitions when she was about 13 or 14
2. She started out the old-fashioned way
Lesley was determined to get a record deal and break into what was then a very male-dominated industry. At the time, shows like Idol were just coming into their own, so she had to do things the old fashioned way. This meant getting to a studio and recording demos. Studio sessions cost money, so teenage Lesley started busking to raise funds.
3. She got her first record deal while still in school
The local talent competitions proved to be good networking opportunities, and soon enough Lesley was signed up to a small independent label. All while still in school. She had her first showcase at 17. This involved her own label inviting all the major labels to Dublin to see Lesley perform. People noticed and liked her music, but she didn’t get signed. She regrouped, wrote some new songs and put on a second showcase about one year later, also in Dublin. And this time, she got picked up by the US label Jive Records, a subsidiary of Sony.
4. She went to the U.S. and Sweden to work on her debut album
No sooner was the ink dry on her new contract, then Lesley was whisked off to New York for yet more showcases. Numerous sessions and meetings followed, and before long she was in Sweden. Once in Sweden, she worked with numerous well-known producers on more demos. But all the time the goal was to work with Max Martin — the world-famous hitmaker, who at this time had just had massive success with Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone”. However, Lesley’s minders didn’t want to push the matter too much since she was just a new artist. And then a dinner with Max was arranged.
5. Her first meeting with Max Martin seemed to go disastrously
But it wasn’t just Lesley and Max at the dinner. Max’s entire family were there — about 15 people. And all of them spoke in Swedish. Lesley recounts on a podcast that she thought “this is an “f***ing disaster”. She couldn’t join the larger conversation, except when Max would occasionally ask her questions. The meal ended with Max agreeing to listen to her demos. After doing some writing together, Lesley went into the recording booth to lay down some vocals. And Max left. It appeared to be over. Within an hour, he returned and declared that he was doing the whole album.
6. Her album was successful…but not successful enough
The outcome of this work was Unbeautiful, Lesley’s 13-track debut album. Released in 2008, it enjoyed some early successes. The first single was “I’m Gone, I’m Going” — not the song Lesley wanted to lead with, she would have preferred “Unbeautiful”. But “Unbeautiful” took on a life of its own. It began appearing on radio playlists and was on the verge of cracking the Billboard charts. And then her deal was gone overnight. To this day, Lesley doesn’t know exactly what happened, attributing the label’s decision to business reasons. She was 22.
7. She’s worked with some big names
Over the years, Lesley has worked with some of the music industry’s biggest names. One of these was the American popstar Katy Perry. Together they worked on a few songs, but “Slow Goodbye” was the one that saw the light of day, making it onto Lesley’s LP. In an interview with our William, Lesley says Katy was responsible for lyrics like “biting all the black off my nails” and “sitting in the park after dark”. After her record deal fell through, she began to focus more on songwriting for others — creating tracks for the likes of Adam Lambert and Medina.
8. She sings a wrestling entrance theme
Each wrestler on the WWE wrestling show has their own entrance theme. These anthems can be known songs from established acts, but more often than not the programme uses tracks crafted specifically for each “character”. And the female wrestler Ember Moon always marches out to Lesley’s dulcet tones. The song is called “Free The Flame”.
9. She’s been with her wife for over 13 years
Lesley is happily married to her “cookie” Lauren. The couple have been together for over 13 years. In fact, Lauren was there to support Lesley when her record deal fell through over a decade ago. They celebrated their ten-year wedding anniversary in December. They normally live in New York. However, the pair moved to Ireland in early 2021 to allow Lesley to best prepare for Eurovision in the current pandemic scenario.
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10. She had her own podcast
Lesley co-hosted the Pop Kitchen podcast with her friend Jeff Johnson. In her own words, the show saw them “obsess over how a writer or producer writes a fantastic song. What makes a great melody? What makes a song a disaster? What are the ingredients?”. If you’re unfamiliar with the podcast, you can dive in to episode 12 — that’s the one dedicated to Max Martin and Lesley’s links to him. It forms the basis for many of these 10 facts. It’s available on Spotify and other podcast listening platforms. However, the series has been on hiatus ever since Lesley was first selected to represent Ireland. The newest episode came out in February 2020.
What do you think of Lesley’s career? Does “Maps” have a clear route to the final? Let us know in the comment section below.