Turkish-born singer Serhat Hacıpaşalıoğlu will compete for the Republic of San Marino in the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in a year that Turkey will be missing on stage.
Hacıpaşalıoğlu, known as Serhat, will be the first Turkish citizen competing for another country in the history of the contest, which annually gathers singers from countries inside and outside Europe, such as Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Serhat has recently risen in European music charts with his single “Je M'adore” and is determined to “rock the stage” in 61st Eurovision Song Contest which will be held in Sweden's capital Stockholm this year, his team said in a press release.
Serhat will first compete in the semi-finals May 10-12 to push for a win at the finals on May 14th.
The singer's journey on the contest's less-beaten path began when San Marino RTV contacted his Italian manager Marco Vannuzzi after his success with the hit “Je M'adore” and offered the singer to compete for San Marino. He announced his decision in a press conference Jan. 12.
Serhat, born in 1964, was a producer and the host of the popular TV quiz show “Riziko!” the Turkish version of the American show “Jeopardy!” before launching a music career.
Turkey withdrew from the competition as a country in 2013 as a protest to a change in the voting system. In 2015, it announced that it would compete in 2016's Eurovision, but later, a statement by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said Turkey would return to the competition in 2017.