Page last updated at 06:58 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Wales-based musicians sing for Cyprus in Eurovision


Jon Lilygreen and The Islanders are performing Life will be better in Spring as the Cypriot Eurovision entry

Musicians from south Wales are to sing at the Eurovision Song Contest in May - representing Cyprus.

Jon Lilygreen and The Islanders are a 22-year-old Coleg Gwent performing arts student and five musicians from Cyprus, Norway and Scotland with local links.

They were outright winners of the televised finals on Cyprus with a rock ballad, Life Looks Better In Spring.

The band includes husband and wife Jon Gregory and Sylvia Stand, who run a recording studio in Rhondda.

The six took part in a two-hour final on Sunday against eight Cyprus-based acts but won both the public and judges' votes.

Mr Lilygreen, who attended Bettws High School, Newport, said: "It was a hell of an experience. We turned up not knowing if we even stood a chance.

"It feels good to come out on top."

Jon Gregory and Jon Lilygreen
Jon Gregory (l) said Jon Lilygreen had 'natural talent'

The song was produced by Mr Gregory and Norway-born Ms Stand after being approached by its writers, Cyprus-based Nasos Lambrianides and Melis Constantinou.

Scotland-born Mr Gregory, whose family moved to Wales when he was five, said: "Nasos is a Cypriot songwriter who found us on the internet about six months ago.

"He sent us a basic idea for the song that he and his friend had written.

"We developed it into a full, master song. We rearranged it, we put harmonies on it, we developed it into a full-blown production with strings.

"We sent it back to him in Cyprus and then he entered it for the Eurovision Song Contest.

"We did two songs, actually, and got both tracks into the final but only did one so we did not split the vote."

The band's lead singer was known to Ms Stand, who teaches part time at Coleg Gwent, where Jon Lilygreen was studying.

An excerpt from the song, as performed by Jon Lilygreen and The Islanders

Mr Gregory, based Tynewydd, near Treorchy, continued: "My wife discovered him. He just has a natural talent and can bring things to life."

Singer Ms Stand, who trained in classical singing at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, said the pair worked together on a show.

She said: "Jon was in the orchestra pit with me playing guitar. I heard him sing and thought 'oh my god!'"

The rest of the band are: vocalist Sean Watts, from Cymmer in Rhondda, vocalist Katherine Squire, from Devon, who also studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and bassist Charalambos Kallona, originally from Cyprus.

John Lilygreen and the Islanders will now represent Cyprus at the 55th Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo in May.

The contest semi-finals will take place on the 25 and 27 May with the final on 29 May.

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