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Sonia: ‘Eurovision in Liverpool was a dream come true’

Friday 14 July 2023

Sonia: ‘Eurovision in Liverpool was a dream come true’

Singer, actor and former UK Eurovision entrant Sonia told students at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) that performing at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool was the fulfilment of a 30-year dream.

Sonia represented the UK at the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest, performing Better the Devil You Know. Sonia, who’s a Liverpudlian says: “When I did Eurovision in 1993, I said to everyone, ‘if I win this, I’ve got to bring Eurovision back to Liverpool.’” The 1993 contest though was won by hosts Ireland, with Sonia finishing a close second.

Fast forward to 2023 and Liverpool is chosen to host the contest on behalf of Ukraine. Sonia – with her strong links to Liverpool and Eurovision – is invited to perform Better the Devil You Know at the final. Sonia says she was thrilled to be asked back. “I was on The One Show when Graham Norton announced Liverpool had won the contest to be hosts. I was so excited and the atmosphere around the city over Eurovision was amazing. I’ve never experienced anything like it. 1993 wasn’t to be for me, but getting to perform at the final in Liverpool was a dream come true.”

Sonia started rehearsals in the M&S Bank Arena a week before the final, which was on 13 May. This included four dress rehearsals, some of which were in front of a live audience in the arena. Sonia admits the prospect of performing in front of a world-wide TV audience of 162 million was, at first, terrifying. “After I’d done my first run through my stomach was like a washing machine. I said to my husband Mark, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ But by the time we’d got to the fourth run through I knew I could.”

Sonia was at LIPA to take part in a Q&A with students that was hosted by Music Lecturer Eva Petersen. Sonia told students all performers suffer from nerves. “It’s normal. It wouldn’t be right if you didn’t feel like that.

“I went through a stage quite a few years ago when I got very nervous. You’ve just got to breathe slowly and deeply and tell yourself, ‘This is stupid, I know I can do this’. Once you’ve sung the first couple of lines or reached the chorus, you’re usually fine. I think the minute you decide you can’t do it and walk off stage, that’s it. I think getting back on stage after that would be very difficult.”

Sonia, full name Sonia Evans, has had 11 UK top 30 singles, including the number one You’ll Never Stop Me from Loving You. She continues to tour internationally and is a regular on the festival circuit. Alongside her recording career Sonia is a successful actor appearing in musicals, including A Slice of Saturday Night, Grease and What a Feeling! While her TV work includes Brookside (C4), Bread (BBC), The Lily Savage Show (BBC) playing the part of Paul O’Grady’s daughter Bunty Savage, and Hollyoaks (C4).

Her Q&A with students followed her appearance at LIPA’s official Eurovision delegates and press event, The Eurovision Song Funfest, where she performed alongside LIPA students. Sonia says she enjoyed the experience. “The musicians here are remarkable and the students working on the technical side were amazing. I couldn’t fault it. The sound on stage was great. I was really impressed.”

Image: Music lecturer Eva Petersen and Sonia. Photography Brian Roberts