By Stephanie Amy Collazo
Long before her audition on X Factor, Rebecca Ferguson was fighting for her chance at the spotlight. At the age of 14, she was working to pay for singing lessons to hone her craft. Her story of being a single mother of two by the age of 19 struck a chord with the nation, and when we heard her raw rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” we were sold. Though she came second in show, it may have been for the better. Now a year after X Factor, Ferguson has had time to hone her writing skills and is back with the release of her album Heaven.
YRB: How did you get into music?
Rebecca: Gosh, I’ve been singing since I was little and then I started pursuing it myself, properly, trying to do it professionally, when I was at age 14. I started to pay for singing lessons and drama lessons. For years I just kept on trying and going to studios and recording. In the end I applied to X Factor and that was my big break, really.
YRB: What artists inspire you?
Rebecca: Artists like Tracy Chapman, she wasn’t afraid to say what she thought. Lilly Allen, I like people that are honest, honest writers, people that aren’t scared to be honest about what is going on in the world. I like Kings of Leon. I’m a big fan of Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. I’m inspired by loads of artists really.
YRB: How would you describe your music style?
Rebecca: It’s probably quite soulful really, but I write all different styles of music. This album is being described as quite soulful but I write dance music, classical music, country music. I write every type of music, but people describe me as soulful.
YRB: What made you go out for X Factor?
Rebecca: I’d been trying for years and just wasn’t getting a break. At the time I’d been to many reality TV show auditions and didn’t really get anywhere. I got an email one day asking “do you want to come to an audition?” Then I applied for it and thought, “you know what, you only live once. If I get through, I get through. If I don’t get through at least I tried.” So I went for it.
YRB: What was the whole X Factor experience like?
Rebecca: You know, what people don’t see is that it’s an amazing experience but it’s really stressful. The pressure that you’re under when you’re on one of those TV shows is a lot, because you’re being judged, not just by a panel but by millions. It’s also the press attention that you’ve never [had] before. It’s hard, I found it very intense.
YRB: What did you learn from it?
Rebecca: Strength of character, really. It really strengthened me. I was a very passive person before the X Factor. I’ve always been shy but I was passive and I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. But on a show like that, you learn to fight for what you want. You’re in a competition so you have to fight for the best song, you have to fight for the best look. So it really gave me strength of character and it taught me to speak up.
YRB: This month you are releasing your debut album Heaven, which debuted at #3 on the UK album chart do you think you’ll be as successful in the US?
Rebecca: Oh gosh! I really don’t know. I know that I’m going to work really, really hard. I think you only live once and I’ve been given a fantastic opportunity so I’m just going to work as hard as I can and do the best I can. I’m one of those people that thinks if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. All I can do is my best and hope people enjoy the music.