Yuko Takeda took the cake at this year’s Ourvision.

The annual international singing contest continues to grow in popularity.

WITH the Grande Finale staged back in early October, the Ourvision Song Context has proven once again that immigrants in Finland do have a voice, and it’s not a bad one to boot. Established by Caisa, Helsinki’s international cultural center, Ourvision is billed as “a Eurovision – but for everyone”. From humble beginnings the contest has evolved into a slick show with serious contenders that match their singing capabilities with a cultural diversity that is very much Helsinki today.

Now in its fifth year, the 10 finalists hailed from far and wide as Bulgaria to Cuba. The atmosphere at the Helsinki’s Savoy Theatre was electric and, despite the many cultures present, in full solidarity. An evening full of surprises combined with an incredible variety of talent, the night showcased just how far Ourvision has really come from its humble beginnings.

Influences were worn proudly on the sleeves of contestants. A broad range of styles from reggae, to R&B to ‘80s pop (Paula Abdul, anybody?) were revealed as performers were really put to their vocal paces with some clear favorites emerging early on in the contest.

As the night went on, the Best Performance was taken home by Daniel Barro and Best Band by Anna Dantchev. The Best Original Song went to OB Phrase and the Best Voice accolade went to Sam Moudden. With Culture and Sports Minister Paavo Arhinmäki on hand to distribute the prizes, third place overall went to Barro and second to Mouddem.

First place was taken by the incomparable Japanese singer Yuko Takeda. Yuko won a cash prize as well as the chance to record an original track with the help of Vesa Matara, so, we can look forward to hearing great things from her in the future.

Now, we just have to wait till 2014 to enjoy the next round of global talent.

Tania Nathan