Organizers have unveiled the line-up for the 56th annual edition of Italy's Sanremo Festival, which will run from Feb. 27 to March 4. The song contest will be divided into four separate sections: men,

Organizers have unveiled the line-up for the 56th annual edition of Italy's Sanremo Festival, which will run from Feb. 27 to March 4.

The song contest will be divided into four separate sections: men, women, groups and youngsters.

The men’s section will feature Alex Britti, Gianluca Grignani, Luca Dirisio, Povia, Ron and Michele Zarrillo. There will also be six entrants in the women's section: Simona Bencini, Dolcenera, Nicky Nicolai, Anna Oxa, Spagna and Anna Tatangelo.

Each participant will perform one song. An overall winner will be chosen from each of the four sections on the final night. Winners are selected by popular vote. Most participating artists are expected to release a single and an album during the week of the event.

The event is organized by the city of Sanremo and Rai State Television, which broadcast the event live on its national Rai Uno channel.

The song festival has been one of the key events in the Italian music calendar since the early 1950s. It helped launch the careers of Laura Pausini and Andrea Bocelli, among others.

In recent years, however, the competition has become a source of tension with the music industry largely on account of its diminishing ability to transform its vast television audience into record sales. Members of industry body FIMI stayed away from the 2004 edition on account of a dispute over expenses owed to labels from the previous edition. FIMI members returned to the fold in 2005.

This year’s festival will be presented by comedian Giorgio Panariello. Gianmarco Mazzi returns as artistic director for the second successive year.

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