UK chooses crooner Humperdinck as Eurovision entrant

Fri Mar 2, 2012 9:00am EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - British septuagenarian crooner Engelbert Humperdinck will represent the United Kingdom at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, according to the BBC, which chooses the country's contestants.

The 75-year-old singer, best known for his 1967 hit "Release Me," will be hoping to reverse a slump in fortunes for British acts at the annual sing-off.

"It's an absolute honor to be representing my country for this year's Eurovision Song Contest," the singer told the BBC.

"When the BBC approached me, it just felt right for me to be a part of an institution like Eurovision. I'm excited and raring to go and want the nation to get behind me!"

Humperdinck is the oldest Eurovision contestant and if he wins, will be the UK's first triumph since Katrina and the Waves 15 years ago.

The competition takes place on May 26 in Baku, Azerbaijan, where it has generated considerable excitement but also seen the country's human rights record come under closer international scrutiny.

In the latest example, Amnesty International said on Friday it hoped Humperdinck would draw attention to the issue of what it called "prisoners of conscience" being held in Azeri jails.

"There is a deep irony in the announcement," said Tim Hancock, campaigns director of Amnesty International UK, ahead of planned demonstrations in Azerbaijan over the weekend.

"Engelbert Humperdinck is famed for his song 'Please Release Me', yet, on the streets of Azerbaijan this Sunday protesters risk arrest by simply taking to the streets to display their discontent with the authorities."   Continued...

Singer Engelbert Humperdinck performs as guest during the international new singers contest New Wave in Jurmala July 28, 2010. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins