OPERA STAR FROM WALES HOPES FOR EUROVISION HIT... SINGING FOR ARMENIA

Wales On Sunday, UK
March 29 2015

by Huw Silk

SHE is hoping to emulate Abba and Bucks Fizz - and possibly do slightly
better than Bonnie Tyler.

SA singer from Cardiff says she is privileged to be representing her
country at the annual pop and glitz fest Eurovision this spring.

But rather than lining up for the UK Mary-Jean O'Doherty is warming
up her vocal cords for when she lines up as part of a group singing
for Armenia.

The nation's entry comprises six people representing people of Armenian
heritage who grew up around the world.

Known as Genealogy, the group also includes singers from the United
States, Japan, Ethiopia, France and Armenia itself.

And 32-year-old Mary-Jean, who had never visited the country before,
said: "I'm so incredibly excited and privileged to be taking part in
this supergroup."

Brought up in the United States, the operatic soprano came to Cardiff
from Australia seven years ago and has since married Welshman and
freelance accompanist Caradog Williams.

But her family roots are in Armenia, a country of three million people
- about the same as Wales - and which is sandwiched between Georgia,
Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey.

"Armenian television reached out to singers from the Armenian diaspora
to invite them to come to Armenia, learn about their heritage and
represent Armenia for Eurovision," she said.

"The symbol for the band is a tree - the poignant image of Armenian
families whose roots come from this country.

"My Armenian singing teacher in Australia, the world-renowned operatic
soprano Arax Mansourian, nominated me.

"I've been so inspired by my talented band mates and we've all had
such an outpouring of love and support from the Armenian people -
it's been a very emotional journey for me so far and I'll feel so
honoured to be singing for Armenia."

Opera singer Mary-Jean came to Wales in 2008 where she took up a
place with the Cardiff (now Wales) International Academy of Voice.

But although the annual music spectacular - this year taking place
between May 19 and 23 in the Austrian capital Vienna, following
Conchita Wurst's victory in 2014 - is primarily known for pop,
Mary-Jean said her operatic style was not completely new.

"Iwould say it is a bit different," she admitted. "But then you only
have to look at Italy's group Il Volo to realise we're not exactly
alone in this.

"I also have to com-mend our brilliant and versatile composer Armen
Martirosyan who drew from many styles: pop, rock, soul, Armenian folk.

"I am happy to be bringing the classical opera genre into the mix."

Mary-Jean says she has always been a fan of Eurovision - and Genealogy
has its work cut out emulating Armenia's entry last year, which
finished a strong fourth.

Describing the Armenian entry, she said: "[It is] a very dynamic and
powerful band with a strong sense of cohesion and even stronger vocals
and a transcendent and soulful song.

"We'll be heading to Vienna soon to complete some filming and then
heading to Armenia to rehearse our show.

"I feel so proud of the work we've already accomplished as a group -
it can only grow."

And Mary-Jean said she hopes people in Wales - who are barred from
voting for the UK's entry Electro Velvet - will instead lend her and
Armenia their support.

She added: "I love the Land of Song so much. And, since Wales doesn't
have its own entry, in a way I am singing for you too."

Bucks Fizz at London's Heathrow Airport arriving back with their
trophy after they won the Eurovision Song Contest with Making Your
Mind Up in 1981