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UK song tipped as US chart winner; Million dollar success forecast for Imaani.

Britain's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest has been tipped for million-dollar chart success in America by a leading music magazine.

The respected Billboard magazine, the American music industry bible, believes Where Are You? by the dreadlocked singer Imaani could achieve a high chart position in the world's biggest and most lucrative record market.

The diminutive singer from Derby - real name Melonie Crosdale - will perform the dance music influenced song before 7,000 spectators and an estimated 100million television viewers at Saturday night's contest at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.

Should Imaani achieve US success she would be following in the footsteps of Britain's Eurovision entry in 1996, Gina G.

Her song, Ooh Aah...Just a Little Bit went on to top the British charts and reached the American top 20, eventually notching up worldwide sales in the millions - despite finishing a lowly eighth in the contest.

Where Are You? , which currently stands at number 60 in the British charts after being on sale for a week, has not yet been released in America, but Fred Bronson, who is covering the Eurovision contest for Billboard , said yesterday: "I really do think s he could sell in the States. It's a grower. A record producer friend of mine in Los Angeles immediately picked it out as a hit.

"But I'm not sure the British song will win the contest, but then neither did Gina G and she went on to be the biggest-selling Eurovision song in the American singles chart.

"I don't think I heard how good the song was the first time, I needed a few plays and the television voters are not going to have that. I think Finland could win."

Imaani, who will be the first black woman to represent Britain in Eurovision, takes a philosophical view of the contest: "I'm here to win but if I don't I would not care. I've still got the advantage of all the exposure - winning would be the icing on th e cake."

The 25-year-old, whose father is a Labour councillor in her home town, was not concerned her song does not fit the profile of recent Eurovision winners, which tend to be either Irish-influenced numbers or the straight rock and roll of last year's British winner, Katrina and the Waves. She said: "I think my song reflects the sort of music the public want to see in this contest. They want to see it reflect the charts. I believe the public are taking Eurovision more seriously."

Meanwhile the death of Diana, Princess of Wales will be commemorated at the contest in the Swedish entry.

Songwriter Ingela "Pling" Forsman was so affected by the death of Diana she was moved to write the song Karleken ar (Love Is) for 24-year-old singer Jill Johnson.

Ingela, from Stockholm, wrote the lyrics as a tribute to the Princess and other friends who died last year.

The 47-year-old songwriter said: "I sat and watched Diana's funeral and cried. I was very moved.

"But last year was also a tragic year in the music industry. The man behind Abba, Stikkan Anderson, died, as did John Denver and Ted Gardestad.

"With the lyrics I wanted us to remember that the accomplishments people achieve live on after their death and we will never forget them."

Ingela added: "We are not allowed to perform in English, so on the night Jill will sing in Swedish. But if she wins she will sing it in English afterwards."

British television star Ulrika Jonsson, who will co-host the contest with Terry Wogan said she would remain neutral despite her Swedish roots.

She added: "But then it doesn't really matter because the Irish always win, don't they? Even when they enter a s*** song!"

Ireland, who have won four of the past six contests, will be represented on Saturday by Dawn Martin, a 22-year-old hairdresser from Dundalk who was chosen after being spotted performing in pubs and clubs.

Other contestants sampled some traditional West Midland hospitality yesterday afternoon at the Black Country Living Museum at Dudley.

Slovenian singer Wili Resnik enjoyed a lunch of fish and chips and a drop of Black Country ale which he said was similar to the beer in his homeland.

And another contestant Chiara from Malta, who also tucked into some fish and chips, said: "It's a fascinating place and I am really enjoying my visit to Birmingham and the Midlands.

"I must confess that I like Birmingham far more than London. And the people are so nice and welcoming."

Representatives of nine countries taking part in the contest went on the visit.

The visitors were split into parties to visit and sample the attractions at the museum site including the Mine Experience, rides on trams or trolley buses and a canal trip into the Singing Cavern below Castle Hill.

Museum director Mr Ian Walden said: "Each of the contestants was given a souvenir horse brass featuring the Eurovision logo, made at our foundry."

The visitors came from from Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 6, 1998
Words:842
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