X Factor 'life-changing' for Sam

Salisbury Journal: X Factor finalist Sam Bailey arrives for a homecoming gig at Athena, Leicester X Factor finalist Sam Bailey arrives for a homecoming gig at Athena, Leicester

X Factor finalist Sam Bailey has said her life has already been changed by the hit talent show, even if she does not win this weekend's showdown.

The 36-year-old prison officer will take on soloists Luke Friend and Nicholas McDonald in the ITV competition and is hotly tipped to win.

She has continued to wow audiences since leaving celebrity judges Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh open-mouthed after belting out Beyonce's Listen in her first audition.

Speaking as she was greeted by hundreds of roaring fans before performing a homecoming gig at the Athena in her native Leicester, she said her life had already been transformed by the show.

Asked how things would change if she were to be crowned the winner, she said: "It's already changed my life, it's already changed. Everything's changed."

She said she was "really, really excited" about getting on stage at the weekend and taking on the two boys in the final had left no bad blood between them.

"I love them, I love them to death," she said.

"We're just literally going to be in that final together, having the best time of our lives.

"I love them, they're my boys. So we're going to have some fun."

It has been revealed she will duet with Nicole, who has no acts left in the show, singing And I Am Telling You from Broadway musical Dreamgirls.

"It's going to be a massive song, I can't wait," Sam said.

Wearing black skinny jeans with black stiletto shoes and a three-quarter length red coat, Sam said she was gobsmacked at the amount of people who had supported her since she entered the X Factor, and was amazed at seeing the amount of fans who had turned out for her homecoming gig.

The majority of the crowd had braved bitter cold for hours to see the mother-of- two walk down the red carpet, pausing to sign autographs, hug fans, and pose for pictures along the way.

"It's just amazing," she said.

"I can't believe that people are out to support me. I never expected it to be this big, I really didn't."

Despite performing in front of millions of people every week, Sam said she was "really nervous" about her Leicester performance, where she will sing four songs.

The X Factor final airs in two parts and will be broadcast live from Wembley Arena. The first live show airs at 8pm on Saturday on ITV, while the second show, which sees the contestant with the most votes crowned the winner, will air the following day at 7.30pm on ITV.

Special guests confirmed for the final include Sir Elton John, The Killers, Katy Perry and Tom Odell.

The winner's single will be released shortly after the final, with profits being split between Great Ormond Street Hospital and children's charity Together for Short Lives.

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