UK: Birmingham backed to host by Imaani!

Imaani who nearly won the Eurovision Song Contest says she is “backing Birmingham” to host the 2023 event.

Imaani finished as runner-up to Dana International when the competition was last held in the city in 1998.

The winning city is expected to be announced by the BBC and Eurovision organisers in the next few weeks.

Imaani finished seven points behind the Israeli winner 24 years ago, the year after Katrina and the Waves won with their UK entry Love Shine A Light. Until Sam Ryder’s stellar performance at this year’s contest in Turin, Italy, she was the UK’s most recent runner-up.

A woman sitting in a street
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Imaani remembers her “absolute terror” preparing for the 1998 contest in Birmingham

She remembers feeling “absolute terror” during the dress rehearsal for her song Where Are You?, at the city’s National Indoor Arena.

“My management team drew lots over who was going to come down and tell me off for crying,” she told the BBC. “I was just so scared.”

Despite this, the singer has fond memories of the atmosphere in Birmingham during the live show.

“It was massive. Amazing band and the crowd was incredible. Such a huge building, it was amazing, a phenomenal experience,” she said.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Birmingham could do it again. And a thousand times better than they did it before – and they did a pretty damn good job when I was there. I’m backing Birmingham.”

If it wins, Birmingham will host the event at the 15,685-capacity Resorts World Arena.

Cllr Ian Ward in front of Birmingham City Council House
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Cllr Ian Ward said the 1998 contest was a turning point for public perception of the city

Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield are also hoping to stage the event, in May.

Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward said the summer’s Commonwealth Games proved the city’s ability to be the host.

“We saw during the Commonwealth Games people here in Birmingham rediscovering their pride and their confidence in their city and realising that Birmingham can do these major international events as well as any other city anywhere in the world,” he said.

Two men holding European flags in front of a flag backdropIMAGE SOURCE,BRYAN AND KEVIN MANLEY-GREEN
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Kevin and Bryan Manley-Green said they were confident the competition they “absolutely loved “would return to Birmingham

Eurovision super-fan Bryan Manley-Green, from Birmingham, said the city “blossomed” during Eurovision 1998.

“The city just came to life, it came to life for the whole month because we had the G8 just afterwards… so it was just a wonderful month,” he said.

“He likes Eurovision more than me,” joked partner Kevin.

Source: BBC