A stirring rendition of The Beatles’ “Let It Be” clinched the vote for 27-year-old Kobi Marimi last night (February 12) as the Israeli representative at the Eurovision Song Contest in May.
Auditions have been taking place since November on the TV show “Rising Star for Eurovision.” The last show featured the final four hopefuls: Ketreyah Fouch, Shefita (Rotem Shefi), Maya Buskila and Marimi.
Marimi won most of the celebrity jury votes as well as the popular vote of the studio audience and home viewers.
He admitted afterward to some trepidation at the start of the process, “but the audience I was so afraid of at the end turned out to be the most loving and embracing thing in the world. So I learned to dare.”
Marimi had been eliminated during the quarter-finals but won a second chance after a knockout performance of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”
The Tel Aviv resident will be competing on his home turf. Israel is hosting the 64th annual song contest by virtue of last year’s win by Netta Barzilai with the song “Toy.” Barzilai said Marimi was her favorite early on in the audition process.
Although Israel hosted the show two other times, in 1979 and 1999, this will be the first time it will be held outside Jerusalem. Between May 8 and 12, two semifinals and the final live broadcast will take place at the EXPO Tel Aviv International Convention Center.
Born and raised in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, Marimi began singing at the age of 13 and has appeared in several plays as well as with the Israeli Opera.
The other songs he performed in the Eurovision auditions were “Sweet Dreams,” “Jar of Hearts,” “Mad World,” “Fuego,” “Circle of Life,” “Diamonds,” “This Is Me,” “Russian Roulette” and “Always.”
The song Marimi will perform at the Eurovision Song Contest will be revealed during the Israeli TV Academy Awards ceremony on March 10. Israel has participated 41 times in Eurovision and won four times.