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Gary Revel Jr. in the News - From the Associated Press - Winner of the Finnish Star Contest

Helsinki, Finland

A California man has become 'Finland's Star' after winning a song contest of that name _ the first foreigner to do so. Singing in Finnish, Gary Revel Jr., 28, of Los Angeles, beat 11 other finalists during a cruise on the Viking Isabella ferry. 'It's a miracle I won, a really big surprise. It's great,' Revel said Friday, a day after the contest. Before an audience of some 700 passengers, Revel won with a Finnish ballad, 'Vuoksi Sun' ('For You'), made popular by Laura Voutilainen, this year's Finnish entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest. Revel, who says he came to Finland in 1999 with $60.00 in his pocket, won a Viking Line voucher worth about 200 euros ($175.00) and was guaranteed shows on the ship and a recording contract. 'It was really perfect timing that I won this because I'll be touring with Laura, and people now will know who I am,' Revel said. Revel lives and teaches dance in Lahti, 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Helsinki. He speaks 'a little Finnish', enough to sing the song but plans to take more lessons. Revel was born in Nashville, Tennessee, but lived in Los Angeles before he arrived in Finland. The Suomen Tahti (Finland's Star) contest, for pop artists performing in Finland, is held annually aboard a Viking Line ferry. This year, 431 competed for the title.

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