JERUSALEM (JTA) — A singer who mixes pop and opera will represent Israel at Eurovision.
Kobi Marimi on Tuesday night won the Israeli reality show “Kochav Habah,” or The Next Star,” with performances of Bon Jovi’s “Always” and the Beatles’ “Let It Be.” The winner of the show, chosen by a combination of votes from the judges and the public, represents Israel in Eurovision, which will be held in May in Tel Aviv.
Marimi, 27, was voted off the show a couple weeks ago during the quarter-finals, but was invited back by the judges using their one “life-saver.”
Since Israel is hosting Eurovision he will not have to compete in the semi-finals but will go straight through to the finals of the international song contest.
The finals of Kochav Habah went forward without the Shalva Band, which announced last week that it would pull out over a required Eurovision rehearsal on Shabbat should it have won.
Israeli songwriters currently are submitting original songs from which one will be chosen in the next couple of weeks by the KAN public broadcaster, which hosts Eurovision, for Marimi to perform at the contest.
Following his victory, Tel Aviv lit up its city hall with the words “Good Luck Kobi.”
“Congratulations to Kobi Marimi who impressed and moved an entire nation with his unique voice,” Culture Minister Miri Regev said. “He proved that willpower and faith are stronger than anything … 40 years ago we won the Eurovision twice in a row, and with Kobi we can do it again.”
Israel won back-to-back Eurovisions in 1978 and 1979, and then again in 1998. Israeli won the right to host Eurovision in May when Netta Barzilai won the contest with her song “Toy.”