Dami Im once dreamed of singing on the world stage. As she prepares to represent Australia in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest early next month, that global stage and a skyrocketing career have now become a reality, she tells Simone Worthing.
When Conchita Wurst, the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 winner, and Guy Sebastian, Australia’s first Eurovision performer, announced in March that Dami Im would represent Australia at Eurovision 2016, the young singer was stunned.
‘I felt so shocked,’ she tells Warcry. ‘It was so hard to believe that, out of so many amazing artists in Australia, they would choose me. I couldn’t think of a greater honour than to represent my country.’
Dami will perform the compelling power ballad, ‘Sound of Silence’, at Eurovision, hosted this year in Stockholm, Sweden. This mid-tempo track with a big and catchy chorus will allow Dami to showcase her signature vocals and unique artistic style.
Unlike last year where Australia was a wild card entry straight to the grand final, Dami will compete in semi-final 2, and must get enough votes to go through to the grand final.
Since the announcement, Dami has been busily preparing for Eurovision. ‘It’s not just the song, but everything that goes around the singing that is just as important,’ she says. ‘It’s the costume, the stage design, and the performance aspect. I also want to involve my fans so that they feel the excitement of this.’
For Dami, who moved from South Korea to Brisbane with her family when she was nine, Eurovision comes after ‘the most incredible year of opportunity, success and support’.
She has been planning and recording her latest album, Classic Carpenters, released through Sony Music Entertainment Australia this month, as well as finalising details for her first national tour—Yesterday Once More: Classic Carpenters.
The album will feature 11 classic hits from The Carpenters, the brother-and-sister duo from the United States who rose to fame in the 1970s with their soft musical style. ‘I’ve always loved their music and it’s been amazing to bring these gorgeous songs back to life with my own versions,’ Dami says. ‘Nobody writes songs like that any more, and they will never be old.’
Dami feels that the album’s songs maintain an acoustic touch while staying modern and relevant. ‘I also get to play piano on most of the tracks, which I love.’
The national tour will also feature many of The Carpenters’ classic songs, plus Dami’s hit singles ‘Alive’, ‘Super Love’ and ‘Gladiator’. The tour hits the road on 1 July and finishes 10 December.
Performing in China (in Chinese) for February’s Chinese New Year has also extended Dami’s international reach. More than 200 million TV viewers watched her performance.
‘It’s been quite crazy with all this happening, but I’m so grateful and enjoying it all,’ she says.
To keep focused, Dami tries to spend time every day away from the bustle of everything going on around her. ‘In the mornings or evenings it’s important for me to sit down to read the Bible and pray so I don’t forget the purpose of all this. I also talk to my husband Noah a lot and he really helps to keep me grounded.’
It’s not just the last year that has
been busy for Dami; life has certainly been a whirlwind of activity for her since 2013 when she won Channel Seven’s X Factor, and captured the hearts of millions of Australians with her amazing voice and originality.
In the first half of 2014, Dami released her singles ‘Super Love’ and ‘Gladiator’. Her by then much anticipated album, Heart Beats, was released in October that year, realising her childhood dream of an album featuring her own songs which uniquely represent her as an artist and an individual.
Dami released another single, ‘Smile’, in 2015, and also launched a social media campaign #MakeYouSmile designed to bring happiness to others.
Dami’s love of music began at the age of five, when she would constantly practise piano and experiment with other instruments including flute and violin. She began singing seriously at age 14. Dami has also earned multiple ARIA accreditations, including number-one chart positions and multi-platinum sales for her self-titled debut album and hit singles.
‘Through my songs I want people to know they are loved,’ Dami says. ‘Everyone has a responsibility to make the world a better place and, as a Christian and a singer, I can let people know that God loves them so much and they are created for a purpose.’
Dami emphasises that her faith has made her who and what she is today. ‘The whole point of doing what I do starts with knowing that I am a child of God. It’s important to know your identity because otherwise people look for things to fill them up to feel more secure. I don’t need to do that because I know God loves me, whether or not I am successful by this world’s standards.’
After Eurovision, Dami will stay in Sweden for a week or so to write more music. In June, she and Noah will travel to Uganda to meet the eighth child they sponsor through Compassion Australia.
So is Dami living her dream?
‘Yes, I think I am, and I am genuinely happy about what I get to do,’ she says. ‘Like I tell young people, though, it’s more important to focus on your purpose and what you’re passionate about rather than success and fame. One day I will be forgotten, but if I’ve made people happy through my music and helping those in need, then my dream has come true.’
SBS will broadcast Eurovision from 13–15 May. Dami will sing in semi-final 2 on 13 May. For updates go to www.eurovision.tv/page/timeline
For more information on Dami, go to damiim.com