Olivia launches bid for Eurovision gold

Olivia Garcia recording her song Freedom Hearts for this year's Song for Europe

Olivia Garcia recording her song Freedom Hearts for this year's Song for Europe

A Wigan student who last year took The X Factor by storm is now looking to conquer Europe!

For singer Olivia Garcia is one of six contenders vying to represent the UK in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

The Orrell 16-year-old travelled to Sweden - which hosted last year’s competition - to record a specially written song called Freedom Hearts which was given its first airing on Ken Bruce’s Radio 2 morning show yesterday along with those of the other five entrants.

The song will continue to be broadcast reguarly all week - and can also be heard on the BBC website - until Olivia and the other shortlisted acts perform on a live BBC2 show on Friday night at the Hammersmith Apollo in London.

A live phone vote will decide which entrant goes through to the Song Contest finals in Kiev, captial of Ukraine, in the spring.

Orrell St John Rigby College student Olivia said: “It wasn’t long after I’d been on the X Factor that I got a phone call from the BBC who said there was a big opportunity on the horizon and would I be interested in entering the You Decide competition for Eurovision.

“I was like, ‘wow! yes, oh my God!’ My mum, dad, little sister were all jumping about. This could be, like, something massive.

“I had to go down for an audition in London. I had been given the song beforehand to practise and performed it in front of a panel. A couple of days later I was told I had got through with the song so I went off to Sweden where it had been written to record it at a studio in Stockholm.

“I love the song: it’s emotional, aspirational and it suits my voice. It’s one that I don’t have to hold back on and don’t mind singing over.”

On the BBC website Freedom Hearts (written by Gabriel Alares, Sebastian Lestapier, Linnea Nelson and Laurell Barker) is described as “A swooping, stadium crowd-pleaser with a Eurovision-friendly ‘we are awesome’ message. Strong contender.”

There have been two fallow decades for the UK in Eurovision. In its earlier days the country produced a clutch of winners and runners-up. But since Katrina and the Waves triumphed in 1997, there have only been two UK placings in the top 10.

Olivia has been a popular club singer at local venues for several years but suddenly rose to national prominence when she reached the latter stages of the X Factor on ITV.

It was only at the judges’ houses stage that she bowed out. But, undaunted, she has carried on her career - along with her college studies - and released her first single before Christmas.

You Decide is screened on BBC2 at 7.30pm on Friday. To hear Olivia’s song go to wigantoday.net.