If pop music is infinitely surprising then the often circuitous route that brings a major star to our attention is surely exemplified in the wonderful Rebecca Ferguson.
Just over a year ago, this painfully shy, woefully under confident single mother of two was shown auditioning for The X Factor. In what is surely one of the best audition sequences ever shown on the programme, her story of dignified resignation – pregnant at 17, then again at 19, with no money and little hope – struck a chord with the nation. It seemed that this was a voice destined never to be heard. Then she opened her mouth and her stunningly raw rendition of Sam Cooke’s classic “A Change Is Gonna Come” set the bar on the show, oh, just a million miles higher….
It’s immaterial that she came second on the show – perhaps even preferable, as it has meant that the last year has allowed this Liverpudlian world-class singer/songwriter to hone her writing skills and to channel that remarkable soul voice into a selection of songs that will establish this 25 year old as the voice of her generation, and a global superstar.
With a writing skill that belies her years, Rebecca Ferguson’s debut album does not pander to fashion. It’s not a hybrid of every current hip musical genre, shaken around a bit and mixed into an amorphous lump. This is soul; raw emotion pours out of every fibre of every note making the others sound… ordinary. Fiercely proud of her working class Liverpool roots, Rebecca’s route here hasn’t been an easy one, but it’s given her a dignified fighting spirit, which bursts through her lyrics and informs the path she hopes her career will follow. Basically, she is a true artist, in it for the long haul.
Until now all Rebecca’s admirers have had are her TV appearances. That audition of ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ has had 2.9million views alone on YouTube, whilst her inspired renditions of Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’, Chris Isaac’s ‘Wicked Game’ and Candi Staton’s ‘You Got The Love’ showed that her range of influences was stunningly diverse. But the show itself gave Rebecca something that money can’t buy. “It completely changed me as a person. I’m strong now. Singing used to just be a dream, now it’s my focus. I had begun to give up hope and then the show happened and now, with this first album, I just wanted to get to a point where my voice and my songs are as good as they can possibly be”.
It got her here, to her first single, ‘Nothing’s Real But Love’; passionate yet displaying the control that only a great singer can muster, the subject is one close to Rebecca’s heart – what’s really important in life – “No money, no house, no car, can beat love.”
“People used to say to me ‘Being rich doesn’t make you happy, Rebecca’’’ she says. “And I’d think I’ve got no electricity, nothing – tell that to my empty fridge. But now I’m doing okay, I realise, they were right. It doesn’t matter what you’ve got, as long as you’ve got love. I know that sounds cheesy, but that’s everything”.
It’s a theme continued on much of her searingly honest debut album. “I spilled my soul out. A lot of it comes from writing about relationships I’ve been in, so I think everyone can probably relate to the lyrics – we’ve all been there.” A self-confessed perfectionist, Rebecca, who has always written her own material, wrote a song every day for months. “People just made an assumption, ‘She came off The X Factor she won’t be able to write. We’ll just write her songs.’ Then as time passed they realised, ‘Oh, she can actually do this!’”
Heaven out April 2012, only from Ivory Music & Video, the exclusive licensee of Sony Music in the Philippines.
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