Ireland’s Bellaghy-born Eurovision Song Contest hopeful has said she’s ready to fight for her place in the final “for Derry Girls everywhere”.
rooke Scullion (23) will perform her entry That’s Rich in the semi-finals in Turin on Thursday and is hoping that the catchy, 80s-inspired pop song will take her through to the final on Saturday night.
The Co Derry singer, who appeared as an extra in Derry Girls, has told of her pride in the success of the Channel 4 show and how she intends to bring that onto the stage this week.
The former Voice UK contestant also said she got chills when she listened to Ukraine’s entry – the bookmakers’ favourite to win – adding that triumph at Eurovision for the war-torn country would be an “incredible lift” for its people.
Brooke said: “I downloaded the latest episodes of Derry Girls for the flight over, and being from Derry, there is a sense of pride that the people have.
“I think that’s why it has become a bit of a phenomenon, because locally, people are aware of the ‘Derry pride’, so it’s amazing to see how that’s resonated with so many.
“I’m hoping I’ll be able to bring that pride to life on stage at Eurovision this year and trust the people back home will be watching the semi-final on Thursday and vote to get me to the big stage on Saturday. I’m doing this for the Derry Girls everywhere!”
Brooke said the atmosphere in the run-up to Thursday was “amazing”, and that there was a “buzz in the air” in Turin, where they all received a warm welcome from the locals.
She told how participating acts had bonded and became a “really genuine tight group of friends”, who supported and understood each other.
“It’s quite nice having a small group of people as artists who understand exactly how you feel and what you’re going through because you can relate to them,” she said.
“If you’re feeling nervous, there’s comfort in knowing they feel the same and you’re not alone. The person I’m closest with is Ronella from Albania – she’s amazing.”
Oleh Psiuk, frontman of Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra, was keen to point out that their song had been tipped to do well before Russia invaded his country in February.
The band blends traditional folk and hip-hop. Its song, Stefania, has become an anthem at home and is the most watched on YouTube among the 35 contenders.
On Ukraine being hot favourites to win, Brooke said: “Firstly, I think the guys are brilliant and I love their song. The chills you get when they’re in the room, considering what is going on for them at home, is amazing. If they were to win, that would be an incredible lift for their people.”
This year’s competition is being held in Italy for the first time since 1991 after glam pop band Maneskin won the event last year.
Brooke, whose great grand-mother was Italian, says she feels at home in Turin, where there is a strong community spirit that reminds her of Bellaghy.
“We went on a tour of the Museum of Fragrances, where we got to make our own perfumes, which was so cool to see how that process works,” she said.
“Put it like this, though, I don’t think Tom Ford has anything to worry about! I still have to work on my combinations.
“There’s a lovely community feel here, which I guess being Irish and from a small town I can relate to and vibe with. I can relate to the people here, which is a nice feeling.”
After winning the chance to represent Ireland through RTE’s Late Late Eurosong, Brooke, who made it through to the final of The Voice UK in 2020, received messages of support from Meghan Trainor, former Eurovision winner Dana and Derry Girls star Jamie-Lee O’Donnell.
She can now add another well-known name to her fan base – Grace Kelly singer Mika, who is co-hosting this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
“I’ve been amazed at the outreach of support from people,” she said.
“Mika just yesterday posted a video on Instagram of him listening to That’s Rich in his car. Can you believe that? Your man who sings Grace Kelly is running round Italy listening to Brooke from Bellaghy.”
Brooke will perform at the second Eurovision Song Contest semi-final this Thursday, May 12, (airing on both BBC Three and RTE2 at 8pm), where viewers in the UK and NI can vote to help her qualify for the grand final on Saturday, May 14 (airing on BBC One and RTE One)