Dami Im wows the world in Eurovision semi-finals

HER Eurovision song may be called Sound of Silence, but there was nothing quiet about Dami Im’s debut in the European song contest yesterday.

The former Logan singing teacher did Australia proud by making it through her semi-final as the country’s first fully-fledged Eurovision entrant after Guy Sebastian’s successful outing as a wild card entry last year.

Born in South Korea, Dami moved to Brisbane with her family at the age of nine and learned how to speak English through listening to pop songs.

The talented singer and classically trained pianist, who calls herself a “daggy” diva, burst on to the Australian music scene in 2013 when she won the fifth season of The X Factor.

Australia's Dami Im performs the song ''Sound of silence' during a dress rehearsal for the second semifinal at the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm, Sweden, Wednesday, May 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Australia's Dami Im performs the song 'Sound of silence' during a dress rehearsal for the second semifinal at the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm, Sweden. Martin Meissner

She is now the toast of Europe and we must learn to share her with the rest of the world.

It’s been a whirlwind for the 27-year-old since she was announced as Australia’s Eurovision representative in March.

“It’s been go, go, go from that day of the announcement really, from preparing everything, the costume and rehearsing to events in different states to perform to my fans,” Dami tells Weekend, referring to her Dami army fan base.

“A lot of work has been going on around Eurovision and I haven’t had time to just sit and be freaked out or anything. I think that’s been a good thing.”

As if that wasn’t enough, she also released and toured with a Carpenters cover album before jetting to Eurovision’s host city Stockholm.

It hasn’t been all work and no play for the singer on her second visit to Sweden.

Watch Dami Im in the Eurovision Song Contest’s grand final, which airs live Sunday May 15 from 5am on SBS.

“I was in Sweden last year on a songwriting trip, but it was a very short trip in the middle of winter,” she says.

“It was so beautiful but there was a lot of snow and there wasn’t that much sunlight.

“I have wondered if IKEA is a lot bigger or different than it is here (laughs). I love the meatballs there. I know that’s very cliched.”

In yesterday’s semi-final, Dami wowed in a custom-made, sparkling Stephen Khalil gown.

“We wanted something quite amazing and beautiful, but we didn’t want the costume or the staging to be bigger than the song,” she says.

“We wanted it to compliment the meaning of the song and be interesting but still no bigger than the message.”

The singing competition kicks into high gear for tomorrow’s grand final, when Dami will be up against powerhouse countries like Russia, France, Ukraine and host country Sweden.

Pop star Justin Timberlake was also announced as a special interval performer this week in what appears to be a bid to increase the event’s exposure in the US.

The grand final will be watched by an estimated global audience of at least 200 million viewers.

“It is the biggest stage I’ve performed on with the biggest audience all over the world. If I think about it too much it’s probably going to be too overwhelming,” Dami says.

“It’s no different to performing on a stage say for 100 people in the audience in the sense that all I can do is try to connect with everyone in the audience in an intimate way. It’s me and the person watching and I’m trying to connect emotionally. If their heart moves from watching the performance then that’s my job as a performer done.”

Her Eurovision song Sound of Silence is an emotional ballad that showcases Dami’s powerhouse voice.

It’s quite different to Guy Sebastian’s up-tempo song Tonight Again, with which he placed fifth last year. Bookmakers tip Dami to achieve a similar ranking.

“If I could I would sing ballads all the time,” Dami says. “Eurovision is somewhere where I can get away with a really emotional ballad and I’m glad I’ve gone that way.”

Guy Sebastian proved the Australian public could get behind a Eurovision entrant, and that we could be a hit with the Europeans. But Dami’s success will solidify Eurovision’s place on our pop culture calendar.

The Eurovision Song Contest’s grand final airs live tomorrow from 5am on SBS.