A talented young singer-songwriter who studied at the Queensland Conservatorium may be on track to Eurovision glory this week.
While Jessica Mauboy is flying the flag for Australia at this year’s contest, former Young Conservatorium student Nicole Blair has penned the UK’s national entry.
Her piano ballad, Storm, will be performed by English singer SuRie at Sunday’s Eurovision finals.
The contest reaches an estimated 200 million television viewers worldwide, and Nicole is heading over to Lisbon, Portugal for the finals.
She admits her loyalties may be divided if Australia makes it into the finals.
“To keep things fair, you can’t vote for your own country, so because I’m UK-based, I won’t be able to vote for SuRie!
“I do love Jessica Mauboy’s song, so maybe Australia will get my vote.
“But at the end of the day, I see Eurovision as a competition to celebrate songwriting. Everyone is so encouraging of each other, whether they are writing for their own country or another country.
“It’s such a brilliant competition – daunting but brilliant.”
Nicole started studying at the Young Conservatorium when she was 11 years old and was mentored by senior vocal lecturer Dr Irene Bartlett, who has shaped the careers of artists like Dami Im, Katie Noonan and Megan Washington.
“Irene is actually one of the main reasons that I am doing what I am doing today,” she said.
“Irene went above the call of duty, helping me in so many ways to further my talent and believe in myself. I will forever be grateful for her support.”
As well as being a keen singer, Nicole first started penning her own compositions as a teen.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to hear those ones – they are locked and sealed away! I’ve probably have written over a thousand songs since then.”
After completing her studies at the Young Conservatorium, Nicole moved to Stockholm and then London to pursue her songwriting career.
“I find that Europe is the place where I am most successful, it has got something I can’t describe.
“Stockholm is a beautiful inspiring city and London has an incredible creative scene.”
So what does the future hold for Nicole?
“Every song that gets a home is one more step closer to my goal and I have to keep writing and getting better and stronger,” she said.
“I have my own releases coming this year, and I’ve been working with incredibly talented artists such as Imani Williams and Pixie Lott.
“I want to travel the world and work with as many different people as possible – that’s the dream.”
Dr Irene Bartlett said Nicole was a rising talent in the international music scene.
“She is a very good singer herself, and the fact that she can also write for other people will give her longevity and a very lucrative career.
“I’m delighted to see her success – she is a lovely kid with a lot of drive and determination.”
Queensland Conservatorium Director Professor Scott Harrison said the Young Conservatorium program was a successful training ground for aspiring musicians.
“The Young Con offers a pathway for pre-school, primary and secondary students that draws on the skills, expertise and excellence of the Queensland Conservatorium.
“It is fantastic to see former students like Nicole enjoying success on the world stage.”
The Eurovision Song Contest finals will be broadcast on SBS at 7:30pm, Sunday 13 May.