A talented young singer from Hartlepool is hoping to represent the UK in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Michael Rice, 21, has been chosen as one of six contestants in the running to represent the nation in the competition, to be held in Israel this May.
The singer and songwriter shot to fame after winning BBC1 TV talent contest All Together Now, last year, to take home the £50,000 prize pot.
The six hopefuls, mostly drawn from the ranks of TV reality shows, share three songs which will be on one of the potential entries.
The public will choose who goes through to the final in a live TV show, Eurovision: You Decide, on Friday, February 8.
The former McDonald’s worker, from Belle Vue, also appeared on The X Factor around four years ago, when he was just 16 and went as far as the boot camp stage.
Announcing the Eurovision news to his 2,000-plus Facebook followers, Michael urged them to vote for his song Bigger Than Us.
He said: “I’m one of final six to represent our country in the Eurovision this year!
“If you haven’t already heard my Eurovision song Bigger Than Us, check it out on the BBC website or YouTube!
“I need you to vote on Friday, February 8.
“There are two weeks to go until the live show.”
Speaking to the Mail on his success, the former Dyke House Comprehensive pupil said: “I am really excited and looking forward to it.
“My version of Bigger Than Us is such an epic, big song with a big key change and harmonies, and I think the lyrics resonate with everyone.
“Bigger Than Us is about love, coming together, it’s a really powerful song.
“You just connect with it. It’s all about emotion.”
Michael has loved music from a young age and even taught himself to play piano from watching videos online after his mum bought him a keyboard when he was younger.
Michael came to the attention of the wider public through a viral video of him busking a Years And Years song.
It was seen by almost a quarter of a million people.
Michael said he has always watched Eurovision when growing up and believes it’s a brilliant platform for countries to showcase their music.
His favourite winners are Salvador Sobral (Eurovision winner 2017 - Portugal) and Måns Zelmerlöw (Eurovision winner 2015 - Sweden).
After winning All Together Now, Michael launched business The Waffle & Crepè Shack on Oxford Road in the town in 2018, which closed earlier this year.