Kate Miller-Heidke chosen to represent Australia at Eurovision 2019

Singer’s ballad Zero Gravity, about post-natal depression, wins vote as BDS group stage protest inside competition event

Australia has voted for Kate Miller-Heidke to represent the country in the finals of the 2019 Eurovision song contest, with her operatic pop ballad Zero Gravity.

Miller-Heidke was chosen from 10 Australian acts by a panel of judges and the Australian public on Saturday night during a live broadcast on SBS from the Gold Coast Convention Centre.

The singer-songwriter and actress won with 87 points in the popular vote and 48 points from the judges, giving her 135 points overall.

The electronic duo Electric Fields came second place with 114 points with their song 2000 and Whatever. Sheppard took the third place with On My Way on 87 points.

Speaking on Saturday night, Miller-Heidke said she was “so grateful and thrilled” to represent Australia at Eurovision.

“I’m totally overwhelmed! This has been a peak experience already, and I’m dying with excitement at what’s to come. Thanks to everyone who voted, and to all the other artists who provided such a brilliant, eclectic and stiff competition,” she said.

Paul Clarke, the creative director of Eurovision – Australia Decides, described Miller-Heidke’s victory as “a win for out-of-the-box brilliance, which Eurovision devours”.

“It’s a standout song with mesmerising staging. Kate is a total original and Eurovision will love her. Electric Fields delivered a stellar performance, and came so close, but it was Kate’s night.”

Miller-Heidke, who had her first child in 2016, said Zero Gravity was about her experience with post-natal depression.

“The song tries to capture the feeling when I was coming out of [the depression] and the world was getting its colour back,” she said ahead of her performance on Saturday.

“Having a child shakes your world. So it’s about that sense of becoming myself again.”

Australia first competed in Eurovision in 2015, and until now its entrant had been decided by jury. This year was the first in which the public had been able to vote on who Australia sends to the song contest.

Miller-Heidke is likely to come under increased scrutiny, as activists have been calling for artists and broadcasters to boycott the event so long as the final is hosted in Israel.

By tradition, the Eurovision finals are held in the country of origin of the previous year’s winner. Israeli pop star Netta Barzilai won Eurovision in 2018 with a quirky #MeToo-inspired entry, Toy. This year’s contest will be held in Tel Aviv in May.

But activists for the Palestinian-led international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement have been calling on musicians and broadcasters to refuse to participate in this year’s song contest as part of a broader campaign against Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

The campaign urges artists, musicians and other cultural institutions not to tour to Israel while it “maintains a regime of settler colonialism, apartheid and occupation over the Palestinian people”.

The calls follow protests outside SBS’s headquarters and petitions to broadcasters and artists both in Australia and internationally.

BDS Australia also staged protests outside and inside the Gold Coast event on Saturday night.

The Eurovision finals and grand final are scheduled to be held at the Tel Aviv Convention Centre on 14, 16 and 18 May.

Guardian staff

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