LONDON: After years of writing songs for the likes of DJ Calvin Harris and band Rudimental, James Newman is finally going to perform on a stage like no other: the Eurovision Song Contest.
The 35-year-old singer-songwriter will represent the United Kingdom at next week's contest, to be held in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam.
Newman, whose brother is singer John Newman, will perform his track "Embers", a song he wrote before the COVID-19 pandemic but hopes will lift people's spirits after a difficult year.
"I wanted to do something that felt like a party, that was just fun and something that people could feel like they were coming back out of a really rubbish time," Newman told Reuters.
"I've been writing songs for other people for like seven years now. But there's always that thing inside me that wants to get on stage and do it for myself."
Newman had been due to take part in last year's contest, which was cancelled due to the pandemic. He also caught the virus.
"It was a bit of a rubbish year," he said.
Known for its kitsch pop music and flamboyant costumes, the annual Eurovision Song Contest usually draws a television audience of around 200 million.
Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence won the 2019 competition, meaning the 65th edition is being held in The Netherlands. Participants from 39 countries will take part.
About 3,500 socially-distanced audience members will be able to attend each of nine performances at the Ahoy arena. Most will be from The Netherlands and they will all have to pass a COVID test within 24 hours of the show.
Newman said he was "really happy" he can attend in person, despite expecting to spend most of his free time in his hotel.
"We get tested constantly. We're not allowed to leave the hotel at all unless we are going to the arena," he said.
"So it's going to be a lot of room service ordered," he added jokingly.
Newman made his name writing "Waiting All Night", a 2013 hit for band Rudimental featuring singer Ella Eyre. The song won British single of the year at the 2014 Brit Awards.
He released "Embers" in March and plans a solo album for later this year.
"Eurovision is one thing ... it's not my whole life, but it's something I'm using as a way to kind of showcase what I can do," he said.
(Reporting by Sarah Mills; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Angus MacSwan)