James Newman: who is the UK Eurovision 2021 entry, what is ‘Embers’ about - and is he related to John Newman?

Newman will perform his song ‘Embers’ at the Eurovision finals on 22 May, in Rotterdam

James Newman will represent the UK at the 65th Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Picture: Getty Images)
James Newman will represent the UK at the 65th Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Picture: Getty Images)

Yorkshire-born singer-songwriter James Newman will compete in May as the UK’s Eurovision 2021 contestant.

Newman has had over a year to prepare for his performance, as he was originally chosen to represent Britain last year but the contest was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.

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He has decided to change his song from his 2020 entry, as he wanted to sing about “having that connection”, following the past year of social distancing.

So, who is James Newman, what will he sing and when is Eurovision 2021? This is what you need to know

Who is James Newman?

Newman is the older brother of UK chart topping singer, John Newman.

The brothers grew up in Settle, in the Yorkshire Dales with their mother, Jackie and were influenced by Motown and Stax, which their mother would frequently listen to at home.

John,30, has gone on to have UK number ones with songs such as Love Me Again and Blame featuring Calvin Harris.

His 35-year-old brother James decided to venture out of the Dales to London in his early 20s, and has enjoyed success as a songwriter.

In 2014, he won the Brit Award for British Single of the Year as a co-writer of "Waiting All Night", sung by British group Rudimental.

Newman is now an established singer-songwriter, having co-written Blame with his brother and Calvin Harris, which John sang on.

Blame topped the UK charts, as well as reaching number in Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland and Mexico and the US Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Songs charts.

Newman is well-known on the continent for his vocals also - he has performed vocals for European DJs and featured on other international singer’s albums - including singing on 2018 hit "Therapy" by Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren.

Later that year, he featured on Norwegian music producer and DJ Matoma’s song "Lights Go Down", for his album One in a Million.

Most recently, Newman sang on the Armin van Buuren song "High on Your Love".

What will he sing at Eurovision 2021?

Newman was confirmed as the UK entry for 2020, and was set to perform his song "My Last Breath", which he co-wrote with Adam Argyle, Ed Drewett and Iain James.

Following the announcement that the Eurovision contest would go ahead in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2021, Newman confirmed he would be this year’s UK act.

On 11 March, he revealed he will now perform his song, ‘Embers’, which he released that day.

He told the BBC: “When we were writing this, it felt like I wanted to show everyone that we were coming back together.

“It's about having that connection and something reigniting. It's about us emerging from this rubbish time we've been having. It fits with the idea that Eurovision is coming back.

"I feel like everyone wants a party and to have some fun so when I was writing, that's what I had in my head.

“I wanted something people can dance to, even if it's just in their kitchen.”

When is Eurovision 2021?

The grand finale (the one everyone watches) is on Saturday, 22 May at 9pm.

BBC One will air the night of performances in full. The finale follows two semi-finals, one on 18 May and the other on 20 May.

The UK secures an automatic place in the Eurovision final, due to being a member of the ‘Big 5’, along with France, Germany, Italy, Spain. The host country, the Netherlands, also skips to the final.

The remaining countries will take part in one of the two Semi-Finals. From each Semi-Final, the best 10 will proceed to the Grand Final.

Therefore, Newman will only perform at the final in Rotterdam, Netherlands on Saturday 22 May 2021.