Armenian Australian hoping for Eurovision glory

A young starlet with Australian roots who has been selected to sing in the Eurovision song contest says she can’t wait for the thrill of singing to millions of viewers around the world.

Mary-Jean O’Doherty Vasmatzian was born to an Australian father and Armenian mother and spent some years studying in Sydney.

She’s one of five young singers selected in Armenia’s official Eurovision band, Genealogy.

The five band members all come from the various Armenian communities around the world. MJ – as she likes to be called – is currently based in Cardiff, Wales, but is representing Australia on the Armenian team.

“This is to an order of magnitude that I can’t even think about. It’s crazy. Even the practice sessions will have ten thousand people,” she told CBS. 

“I think I’m prepared, but I have no idea what this intense feeling will be. But it should be amazing. It should be cool. I’ve got a whole band with me. It’s not just me and I’m representing a country.

“It’s not MJ singing. It’s me representing Armenia.” As if preparing for an event like Eurovision isn’t a big enough task, MJ receives long-distance coaching lessons from a Sydney-based veteran of the Armenian opera, Arax Mansourian.

The pair communicate over an online chat program and web cam and insist their web-based relationship is still an effective way to fine tune MJ’s singing.

Ms Mansourian – herself an acclaimed musician and singer who’s performed to audiences around the world – told SBS the story of how MJ came to be her student.

“I got an email from her mother in 2005,” she said. “We didn’t know each other. Suddenly I’ve got a long email from a lady saying she wants to send her daughter to study with (me).

“I said yes. (She was) an Armenian woman asking me, so of course. And that was our beginning.”

Among MJ’s many accolades is the Australian International Opera Award which she won in 2008. She’s since sung on some big stages, but nothing like Eurovision.

The song MJ and the Genealogy band will sing in Austria is titled ‘Don’t Deny’, which has faced some criticism in Turkey and Azerbaijan. They claim the title refers to the 1915 mass killings, which the Armenian Government calls genocide and the Turkish government disputes.

But MJ insisted it was a song about love. “The title is Don’t Deny and it’s song about forgiveness and the love we all share in our families, it’s all about family, but also the human family as well,” she said.

“You can’t really define it too specifically. It’s open to interpretation but the way I feel is it’s about love, unity and forgiveness.”

Armenia’s first Eurovision appearance will be on May 19.

Show More
Back to top button