On March 16, 2015, the San Marino representative for Eurovision 2015 was revealed. The decision was made via an internal selection organized by Smtv San Marino (SMRTV), the Sammarinese broadcaster.
Singers Michele Perniola and Anita Simoncini were chosen to represent their country this year, with the song Chain of Light. Perniola is 16, and Simoncini is 15 (her birthday falls in April, making her just old enough to compete when the second round of semis approaches on May 21).
Simoncini has been involved with the competition before, performing for San Marino in the 2014 Junior Eurovision Song Contest as part of the all-female group The Peppermints. The girls performed the song Breaking My Heart, and placed 15th. Even though Simoncini is competing without the other girls in this year’s ESC, she gave a statement back in December denying rumors of a breakup and telling fans that they will continue to stay together as a group. In fact, they recently announced their plans to go on tour at some point during this year. She is the only one in the group not from Italy, and fellow member Rafaella Perniola is actually the younger sister of her current Eurovision partner, Michele.
Perniola, also from Italy, has been involved in the Junior ESC as well. In 2013, he represented San Marino with the song O-o-O Sole Intorno a Me (O-o-O Sunlight all around me) coming in third to last (he placed 10th out of a field of 12.)
In December of 2012, at age 14, Perniola won season six of Ti lascio una canzone, a popular Italian singing series. His win earned him fame not only in his home country, but also internationally; the Palagiano native has built up a fan base in places like the United States, and China too. Fellow Eurovision 2015 competitors Il Volo also participated in the aforementioned talent show.
The singer has seen something of an exception made for him in terms of his involvement in Eurovision, given that he is not a national. The rules for the Junior ESC clearly state that any given an entrant must either be nationals OR have lived in the country for which they are trying to compete for at least two years. However, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) decided to give special permission to children between the ages of 10-15, who came from either Sammarinese or Italian heritage.
Last year, it was announced that Perniola would be reading out the points for San Marino in the 59th Eurovision Song Contest. This matter raised some questions as to if someone so young should be allowed to announce the votes (the age requirement to be involved in the regular ESC is 16, which the singer was not at this time.) However, the EBU decided to cut the boy another break and give him special permission to do so.
In terms of singing the duet with his sister’s bandmate, the now 16-year-old has stated that he had absolutely no idea that this was the plan until the last minute before the announcement was made. In fact, Perniola says that he was actually in the car on the way to the press conference in question when he was told the news.
Anita Simoncini and Michele Perniola will represent San Marino in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. Whether or not they qualify for the grand final in Vienna, Austria will be discovered on May 20.
By Rebecca Grace