PE teacher in quest for Eurovision glory - for Azerbaijan!

TO represent your country in the Eurovision Song Contest would be a dream come true for any aspiring singer.

• Scottish schoolteacher Nicola performs on Azerbaijan TV, above and below, in her Eurovision bid

But if West Lothian teacher Nicola Barclay is selected to take to the stage in front of millions, it won't be the UK she will be singing her heart out for.

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The 26-year-old, who is among dozens of semi-finalists bidding for Eurovision glory, is hoping to fly the flag for Azerbaijan.

Keen singer Nicola moved from Livingston to the country's capital Baku in August to take up a position as a PE teacher at the International School of Azerbaijan, and decided to enter the national selection contest for next year's Eurovision.

She has been selected from hundreds of entrants to compete in the knock-out stages to pick their entry for Eurovision 2011, with her performances shown on national TV. She is performing mainly in English and has also had to learn a song in the national language, Azeri.

She said: "Out of the 11 people in each group, one will go through and that will make the top seven, and the winner from the top seven will then represent Azerbaijan in the Eurovision Song Contest.

"It would be amazing to win a competition like that anywhere, but to win it for a country that you're not even from would show that people here truly think that I'm a good singer."

She added: "At the audition, the judges seemed pretty impressed and they were quite pleased to have someone from another country. I think they were a bit shocked that someone from another country wanted to apply.

"You can represent any country in the Eurovision Song Contest - it doesn't matter where you're from. I think my family and friends were a bit shocked too. But they always expect me to come up with something different, and going there in the first place was a bit different. "

Nicola worked as a PE teacher at Whitburn Academy for three years before spending a year on secondment at Burnhouse School in Whitburn.

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After attending a job fair in London in January, she decided to move to Azerbaijan.

The former Deans Community High School pupil said: "I always wanted to work abroad. I knew I needed to see more of the world and do something a bit different.

"There's a big expat community out here - there are lots of Scottish people because of the oil side of it. I have settled in."

Azerbaijan made its debut at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008 when its entry came eighth.

The country came third in the contest last year and this year singer Safura Alizade came fifth with Drip Drop.

Nicola's mum Louise, 48, a duty manager at Deer Park Golf and Country Club in Livingston, said: "I'm so proud of Nicola. When she told me I thought 'go for it girl'. I think what she's doing is brilliant, she has got a fantastic voice and she loves singing with a passion."

Nicola, who has previously applied for The X Factor but didn't get past the first audition, started singing at the age of 11. Since moving to Azerbaijan, she has joined two bands - The Loaded Ladas and The Stoned Puppies.

More about Nicola's Eurovision bid can be found at