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Dami Im

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Dami Im (/ˌdɑːmi ˈɪm/ DAH-mee IM, Korean: 임다미; RR: Im Da-mi, IPA: [im‿da.mi]; born 17 October 1988) is an Australian singer and songwriter. She represented Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 held in Stockholm, Sweden with the song "Sound of Silence", placing second and achieving the highest Eurovision Song Contest score for Australia.

Born in South Korea, Im emigrated to Australia with her family at the age of nine. She won the fifth season of The X Factor Australia and subsequently received a recording contract with Sony Music Australia. In 2020 she left Sony Music and signed with ABC Music.

After winning The X Factor, Im released her debut and winner's single "Alive", which debuted at number one on the ARIA Singles Chart. This was followed by the release of her self-titled second studio album, which debuted at number one on the ARIA Albums Chart and was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association. Im became the first X Factor Australia contestant to follow up a number one single with a number one album on the ARIA Charts. Im's third studio album, Heart Beats, was released in 2014 and became her second top-ten album. It produced the top-twenty hits "Super Love" and "Gladiator".

Early life
Dami Im was born in Seoul on 17 October 1988 to Lee Hae-yun, a trained opera singer, and Im Dong-eal. She is the elder of two children. Im began learning the piano at the age of five, and she taught herself to sing by recording herself copying her favourite artists. Aged nine, Im emigrated to Australia with her mother and younger brother Kenny because their parents thought they would have more opportunity growing up in Australia. They stayed with their uncle in Brisbane, while her father stayed in South Korea to support them. Im's parents now live together, spending part of the year in Australia and part in South Korea.

Aged 11, Im began studying piano at the Young Conservatorium of Music program at Griffith University. She was a national finalist in the Yamaha Youth Piano Competition, and won the Nora Baird Scholarship and the Queensland Piano Competition several times. Im attended John Paul College in Daisy Hill, Queensland and graduated in 2005. She never sang while at school and would only accompany the choir on piano, and play violin for the school's Silver Strings group. In 2009, Im graduated from the University of Queensland with first class honours in a Bachelor of Music. She subsequently completed a Masters of Music Studies degree in contemporary voice at Griffith University. At Griffith University, Im was trained by Dr. Irene Bartlett and Sharny Russell, lecturer and voice coach who also trained a number of other well-known Australian vocalists such as Katie Noonan, Megan Washington, Kristin Berardi, and Elly Hoyt. Prior to entering The X Factor, Im was a gospel singer and occasionally taught piano and voice to support herself during this time.

Career
2010–2012: Early career
Im had a short career as a gospel singer in South Korea, performing at Christian youth camps. In 2010, she released her debut studio album, Dream, which consisted of nine tracks and was recorded to raise money for church endeavours. In July 2011, Im re-released the album with two extra tracks, which were both sung in English. On 5 December 2011, Im released a Christmas extended play called Snow & Carol, which consisted of seven tracks. On 9 July 2012, Im released her second extended play, Intimacy, which consisted of five tracks.

2013: The X Factor Australia
In 2013, Im successfully auditioned for the fifth season of The X Factor Australia, singing "Hero" by Mariah Carey. She progressed to the super bootcamp round of the competition and was placed in the Girls category. On the first day of bootcamp, Im sang "I'm with You" by Avril Lavigne in front of her entire category and judges Redfoo, Ronan Keating and Dannii Minogue. On the second day of bootcamp, she was put into an ensemble of 10 and they sang "Next to Me" by Emeli Sandé in front of the judges. Im made it to the third day of bootcamp, where she sang "Jolene" by Dolly Parton to the judges and a live audience of one thousand. After the judges made changes to the Boys, Girls and Over 25s categories, Im became part of the newly formed Over 24s category and was eliminated. However, Im was called back for the home visits round in New York City to replace Matt Gresham who decided he could not commit to the competition. During home visits, she sang "If I Were a Boy" by Beyoncé in front of her mentor Minogue and guest mentor Kylie Minogue. Minogue later selected Im, along with Barry Southgate and Cat Vas, for the live finals—a series of ten weekly live shows in which contestants are progressively eliminated by public vote.

For the Judges' Choice-themed first live show, Im sang "One" by U2 and received a standing ovation from the judges, with Natalie Bassingthwaighte saying she had "the best vocal of the night". Im's performance of "One" peaked at number 42 on the ARIA Singles Chart. For the Legends-themed second live show, she sang "Purple Rain" by Prince and received another standing ovation. Keating told Im that the competition "at the moment, is yours". Her performance of "Purple Rain" debuted at number 29 on the ARIA Singles Chart. For the Top 10 Hits-themed third live show, Im sang Thelma Houston's version of "Don't Leave Me This Way", and her performance of the song debuted on the ARIA Singles Chart at number 67. Following the eliminations of Vas in week two and Southgate in week three, Im became the last remaining contestant in Minogue's category. After her performance of Katy Perry's "Roar" in the Latest and Greatest-themed fourth live show, Im received her fourth consecutive standing ovation from the judges. Im's performance of "Roar" debuted at number 44 on the ARIA Singles Chart. For the Rock-themed fifth live show, she sang "Best of You" by the Foo Fighters and received her fifth standing ovation. Im's performance of "Best of You" debuted at number 78 on the ARIA Singles Chart.

Following Im's performance of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge over Troubled Water" during the Family Heroes-themed sixth live show, her mentor Minogue notably teared up as she dedicated Im's song choice to her parents and grandfather, following the death of her grandmother. Im's performance of "Bridge over Troubled Water" debuted at number 15 on the ARIA Singles Chart. For the Judges' Challenge-themed seventh live show, Im sang Zedd's "Clarity", which was chosen by Keating, and her performance debuted at number 77 on the ARIA Singles Chart. Im received a mixed feedback from the judges following her performance of John Farnham's "You're the Voice" during the Aussie Week-themed eighth live show. Keating said "it was pitchy and a weak performance" and Bassingthwaighte agreed. For the Power and Passion-themed ninth live show, Im sang "Saving All My Love for You" by Whitney Houston and "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus. Her performances of "Wrecking Ball" and "Saving All My Love for You" debuted on the ARIA Singles Chart at numbers 61 and 85, respectively.

During the grand final performance show on 27 October, Im was required to perform three songs – her audition song ("Hero"), winner's single ("Alive") and last shot song ("And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"). Her performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going", which debuted at number 29 on the ARIA Singles Chart, got all four judges standing on the judges table. Redfoo said Im's performance was "the best thing I've ever seen in my life", while Minogue added that she is "world class". Im's performance of "Hero" debuted at number 62. During the grand final decider show the following day, Im was announced as the winner.

2013–2015: Dami Im and Heart Beats

After winning The X Factor, Im's debut and winner's single "Alive" was released on the iTunes Store. She also received a recording contract with Sony Music Australia and a management deal. Four days after release, "Alive" debuted at number one on the ARIA Singles Chart. It was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association for selling over 70,000 copies. Im's self-titled second studio album was released on 15 November 2013 and featured studio recordings of songs she performed on The X Factor. The album debuted at number one on the ARIA Albums Chart and was certified platinum for shipments of more than 70,000 units. Im became the first X Factor Australia contestant to follow up a number one single with a number one album on the ARIA Charts. On 23 November 2013, Im toured alongside Third Degree, Taylor Henderson, Jiordan Tolli and Jai Waetford for The X Factor Live Tour, which ended on 2 December 2013. In late December 2013, she signed on as an ambassador for the children's charity Compassion Australia.

It was reported on 19 January 2014 that fashion label Alannah Hill had signed Im to be the face of their autumn and winter 2014 collection. On 24 January 2014, Im released a cover of "I Am Australian" with Henderson, Jessica Mauboy, Justice Crew, Nathaniel Willemse and Samantha Jade, to coincide with the Australia Day celebrations. The song peaked at number 51 on the ARIA Singles Chart. Im's next single, an acoustic cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene", was released on 7 March 2014, but failed to chart. In May 2014, she became an ambassador for Priceline Pharmacy's You Beauty campaign, which celebrates the diversity of Australian women. The following month, Im became the ambassador of Nintendo's video game, Tomodachi Life. On 3 September 2014, Im performed at The Marquee in Sydney as part of Nova FM's Red Room Global Tour.

Im's third studio album, Heart Beats, was released on 17 October 2014 and debuted at number seven on the ARIA Albums Chart, becoming Im's second top-ten album. The album was preceded by the release of its first two singles, "Super Love" and "Gladiator", both of which peaked at number 11 on the ARIA Singles Chart. The former also reached the top-twenty on the South Korea Gaon Charts and was certified platinum, while the latter was certified gold for selling over 35,000 copies. In December 2014, Im was the supporting act for John Legend's Australian leg of his All of Me Tour. Im's sixth lead single "Smile" was released on 29 May 2015, and debuted at number 48. In June 2015, it was confirmed that Im was working on her upcoming fourth studio album.

2016–2018: Eurovision Song Contest, Classic Carpenters and I Hear a Song
Im was invited to participate in the international cast BTV Global Spring Festival Gala presentation by the Chinese BTV television station which was broadcast on the second day of Spring Festival 10 February. Im performed an acoustic rendition of "Close to You" in English and then teamed up with Chinese Kazakh singer, Tasiken (塔斯肯), to perform the popular "365 Mile Road" (三百六十五里路) as a duet, in Chinese. The pairing of Im with Tasiken in the duet performance is also notable in that they both share remarkably similar journeys in their music competition experiences. In the second series of The Voice of China competition in 2013, Tasiken was initially eliminated in the Blind Auditions round, but was later selected by coach A-mei in a second chance round. Tasiken performed well and won the Battles and Knock Out rounds, only to ultimately lose to the eventual winner of the series Li Qi (李琦) in the Playoff round. This almost mirrors Im's own experience of being eliminated in the super bootcamp round of 2013 The X-Factor Australia competition, only to be recalled to the home visits round. Im of course went on to perform very well in the subsequent Live Finals and eventually win the competition. The very popular Global Spring Festival event was reportedly one of the world's most watched TV program, broadcast to a global audience of over 200 million.

On 3 March, it was announced Im would represent Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2016. Her song was "Sound of Silence". On 4 March, it also announced Im would release a new album in April called Classic Carpenters. The album is a collection of cover versions of some of The Carpenters' biggest songs. It was released on 22 April 2016. Three music videos of her performing the songs "(They Long to Be) Close to You", "There's a Kind of Hush (All Over the World)" and "Yesterday Once More" were released on 14, 17 and 19 April, respectively. Classic carpenters charted with massive success on the ARIA charts gaining the chart position of Number Three, Im's third studio also gained success on the South Korean charts achieving a position of 23 within the Top 25.

At an interview, Paul Clarke, Australia's head of delegation to the Eurovision Song Contest, was asked about the potential of Im's performance at the contest. Clarke remarked that Im's journey as a migrant to Australia at the age of nine and learning English from songs of Kylie Minogue was conducive to the multiculturalism and diversity of the European competition. Clarke adds that "Im is also a lightning rod of emotion when she performs", which is something he believes will resonate with the Eurovision audience. He further notes that "She can just feel an audience and be able to be the conductor of it, better than just about any performer I've ever seen, she just does it intuitively."

In the Eurovision Song Contest 2016, Im was announced to perform in second semi-final. Im performed tenth in the running order and successfully progressed to the final with the highest score and top ranking of her semi-final. As this was the first time Australia competed in the semi-final stage, Im became the first ever Australian representative to progress from the semi-final to the final. In the final, Im performed 13th in the running order and achieved the top score of 320 points from the national jury. Ultimately, she received 191 points from televoting and was announced to have gained 511 points in total, placing 2nd in the Eurovision Song Contest 2016. Im's second place score is the highest score ever achieved by an Australian representative. Following the contest, Im's single "Sound of Silence" charted at number 3 on the ARIA charts and gained huge success across Europe the single achieved two Gold certifications from the ARIA Charts and the Swedish Recording Industry Association charts respectively. Also "Sound of Silence" charted within the top fifteen in Finland and Belgium – a first for Im in her singing career, the single also charted for the first time in Im's career on the UK Charts, the Spanish, German and Austrian charts. This single is Im's most successful in her career to date. In October 2016, Im released her first post-Eurovision single, "Fighting for Love". In 2017, it was announced through various social media that THE.mgmt has signed Im to a special arrangement modeling contract with the agency.

On 7 April 2017, Im released a new recording of "Hold Me in Your Arms" with original Southern Sons singer, Jack Jones. On 9 April 2017, it was reported that Sony Music Australia CEO Denis Handlin was moved by Im's earlier live performance of the song on Australia Day with Guy Sebastian that he "spared no expense securing the original voice of the song Jack Jones (Irwin Thomas) to re-create is 1990 hit with Dami Im." On 28 April 2017, Im posted on her social media photos of herself with Sony Australia CEO Denis Handlin receiving Gold certification for Classic Carpenters and her platinum certification for "Sound of Silence". In April 2017 Im made a special guest appearance in the Brisbane production of Grease: The Arena Experience.

On 16 February 2018, Im announced her fifth studio album I Hear a Song would be released on 23 March 2018. The album charted with massive success just as her previous album did, reaching number 3 in the ARIA album chart. It also reached number one in the Australian Artist Album charts and number 11 on the Gaon Korean charts.

2019: Live Sessions EP, Asia Song Festival, Independent Release
In March 2019 she released her first Live EP (Live Sessions EP). She left Sony Music Australia and on the 13th of September 2019 released her original song "Crying Underwater" independently. Im said of the release; "There is so much pressure in today's society to always look happy so we end up feeling like we're not allowed to talk about how we really feel, Just like you're crying underwater where no one can see you crying." On 3 January 2020, Im released "Kiss You Anyway".

In October 2019 Im performed in Korea at the Asia Song Festival alongside prominent K-pop artists such as Sunmi, Eric Nam, Stray Kids and Itzy.

2020–present: Signing with ABC, Bluesfest, Dancing with the Stars, My Reality and memoir
In early 2020, Im was announced as a contestant on the seventeenth series of Dancing with the Stars, being paired with new professional dancer Shae Mountain. They were the sixth couple to be eliminated, placing fifth overall for the season.

On 8 February 2020, Im performed "Walk with Me" with Måns Zelmerlöw at Eurovision – Australia Decides, the event that decides Australia's entrant to the Eurovision Song Contest 2020. as well as performing her new single "Marching On" which she wrote about her mother. She made a surprise announcement that she would be competing in Australia Decides 2021, which was ultimately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 31 August 2020, Im confirmed she had signed with ABC Music and announced a new album. On 17 September, she released "Paper Dragon", her first single with the new label. The song was intended to be her entry for Australia Decides 2021, which was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Im performed for the first time at Byron Bay Bluesfest in 2021. She released her sixth studio album, My Reality, on 29 October 2021.

Im released a memoir titled "Dreamer" in 2022.

In May 2023, Im announced the forthcoming release of EP In Between, scheduled for release on 7 July 2023.

Artistry
Im credits her home influences, with her mother being an opera singer, and her own training in piano, as providing her the grounding and work-ethic, instilling in her the love for music and performance. Im has also cited K-pop music as an inspiration in regard to her love and passion for singing and songwriting. Her musical influences are Mariah Carey, Norah Jones, Corinne Bailey Rae and BoA.

Aside from singing Im is also known for her songwriting. Since parting with Sony Music, she has written and released her own songs with deeper personal meaning such as Marching On, Crying Underwater and Kiss You Anyway.

She is also recognised as a fashion trendsetter. During the X Factor competition, she was known for the extravagant outfits that she wore for her performances. Im was sought after by designers and fashion houses to showcase their creations, including Alannah Hill and Carla Zampatti. At Eurovision, Im's iconic dress was custom designed by well-known Australian designer Steven Khalil.