Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Contest hots up for Eurovision

 Shauna Kavanagh is part of the girl group MNA
Shauna Kavanagh is part of the girl group MNA

Three budding stars from Northern Ireland are hoping to step onto the stage at the Eurovision song contest.

Laura-Jane Hunter, who lives in Coleraine, Belfast man Johnny Brady and Shauna Kavanagh from Londonderry are among six acts vying to represent Ireland on the international stage.

Ireland's Eurovision entry will be selected following a special programme on RTE on Friday 20 February.

Shauna Kavanagh is part of the three-girl act M.N.A which will perform Flying, a song written by Ronan McCormack.

Born into a musical family, the 20-year-old demonstrated an early interest in the performing arts. No stranger to the limelight, she has held the post of Junior Mayor of Derry City.

She is passionate about Irish dancing, and came second at the World Championships and has won both the North American and British National titles and in 2008 she toured Germany, Austria and Denmark with the stage production "Magic of the Dance".

Another contender is Laura-Jayne Hunter who originally hails from Coleraine.

She holds a first class honours degree in popular music from the Leeds College of Music and was crowned winner of the Bright Young Things songwriter/performer competition in Leeds city in 2008.

Laura-Jayne is lead singer of the band "Vibetown" as well as being a member of novelty girl band called "Dollypop" .

Laura-Jayne Hunter is passionate about Irish dancing
Laura-Jayne Hunter is passionate about Irish dancing

She said she would be "excited and proud" to represent Ireland at the 2009 Eurovision song contest with the song Out of Control.

"As an experienced live performer, there is nothing I adore more than to connect emotionally with an audience which is actively enjoying my singing," she said.

"I have been told on countless occasions that I "send shivers up the spine" when I sing, and I find it incredibly rewarding to entertain and to help people enjoy themselves throughout a set. I like to experiment with music."

Johnny Brady is one of this year's entrants
Johnny Brady is one of this year's entrants

Belfast-born Johnny Brady is a professional singer and musician and has toured extensively in Germany, Switzerland, Holland and America.

He will be singing Amazing which has been written by Tony Adams Rosa.

Johnny, who now lives in Antrim, has being performing in bands for more than 10 years has been the lead singer in two bands, including Gravity which played their own material throughout Ireland.

The song contest has been open to songwriters outside Ireland and a jury chaired by Eurovision winner Linda Martin chose the six finalist songs from almost 300 entries received from both home and abroad.

The winner will be decided by 50% regional jury vote and 50% public televote.

Two Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals will take place on 12 and 14 May.

The final takes place on 16 May in Moscow.

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