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Switzerland's latest Eurovision hope – a 94-year-old Salvation Army guitaristSwiss television viewers chose the Christian missionary group's rock tune You and Me to represent the country next yearLead guitarist Emil Ramsauer, 94, is proving a surprise hit with fans
21:26 GMT, 16 December 2012
Previous Eurovision winners for the country have included the Queen of soft ballads Celine Dion.
But this year Switzerland is putting its faith in the Salvation Army, whose guitarist is 94-years-old, to win the contest.
Swiss television viewers chose the Christian missionary group's rock tune You and Me from among five national finalists to represent the country late on Saturday.
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Switzerland is putting its faith in the Salvation Army, whose guitarist is 94 years old, to win the Eurovision Song Contest
The versatile musician also plays the double bass in the band's video
Swiss television viewers chose the Christian missionary group's rock tune You and Me from among five national finalists to represent the country
The Eurovision Song Contest, which next year will be held in Malmo, Sweden, is a kitschy fixture on the European cultural calendar and is watched by more than 100 million people across the world.
Viewers and juries pick the winner from an eclectic mix of bubblegum pop and rock acts representing each European country.
And the Heilsarmee group – made up of 94 year old Emil Ramsauer accompanied on lead guitar by 22 year old Jonas Gygax, trombone player Michael Sterckx, 47, backing singer Katharina Hauri, 46, and lead singers Christoph Jakob, 31, and Sarah Breiter, 20 – is certainly eclectic.
But the band are already causing stir.
Political songs are forbidden and Swiss media have speculated that the Salvation Army's Christian aims might still fall foul of the rules.
In an interview published on the Salvation Army website Ramsauer – who has been playing since he was 10 – describes himself as an 'old crock'.
He said: 'I’m an old crock, but otherwise fine – thanks to my dear wife! We still live at home and even have a garden, there’s still a lot I can do.
'I’m in the Salvation Army Thun brass band now. I’ve been making music with the Salvation Army ever since I was ten, played with the Salvation Army in England during the war, then spent 35 years conducting the band in Thun.
The Heilsarmee group- made up of 94 year old Emil Ramsauer accompanied on lead guitar by 22 year old Jonas Gygax, trombone player Michael Sterckx, 47, backing singer Katharina Hauri, 46, and lead singers Christoph Jakob, 31, and Sarah Breiter, 20 – is certainly eclectic
But the band are already causing a stir. Political songs are forbidden by Eurovision and Swiss media have speculated that the Salvation Army's Christian aims might still fall foul of the rules
'Someone asked me (to join the band), and I was interested. I thought I’d give it a try. I always liked making music, and got to play a lot of different instruments.
And I like helping to make the Salvation Army better known. But I was a bit worried it might not be the right thing for me – and the video shooting was a bit much!
'We’re all good friends – I always say that is the most important thing. Playing music and doing something together puts you closer, in better contact with each other.
'I want the Salvation Army to be better known again. Over the last few years you don’t see us as much as you did when we used to sing in the pubs and restaurants, and all we can do mostly is just pass the collecting box around. So it’s a wonderful idea to put the Salvation Army in the public eye like this.
When asked what he would do if they won the chance to represent Switzerland, he said: 'Oooooh – then I’ll have to go through with it, won’t I – but I’ve done a lot of travelling, so it won’t be that bad.
'So let’s go to Sweden! Why not, if I can still do it and I’m fit enough'
Switzerland hasn't won the contest since Canadian singer Celine Dion represented the country in 1988.
Salvation Army project manager Martin Knzi: 'Everything started with what sounded like a crazy idea.
But then we all got enthusiastic about it, and after managing to get Hitmill as producer, we clearly had to give it a try.
'Because even without winning, it would still be worth doing.
'Firstly to show that we love challenges, secondly to get a new song in our Christmas repertoire.'
VIDEO: Not too old to rock: 94-year-old Emil Ramsauer in action on 'You and Me'…
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