Rebecca Ferguson on Bournemouth, boy bands and being bold
PUBLISHED: 10:30 10 February 2014 | UPDATED: 13:36 27 November 2014
The X Factor finalist who narrowly beat a little band called One Direction in 2010, Rebecca Ferguson will be performing her new album in Bournemouth this March
Freedom is Rebecca Ferguson’s aptly-named second album, because for all the fame and fortune that X Factor brought her, she is now feeling in control for the first time in years. “Immediately after leaving the X Factor I was put to work, and on occasion I was booked out for three gigs a night, which could have been anywhere in the country,” she says. “And then there were daily radio interviews, publicity and the X Factor Live Tour, it was all just so full on.”
Rebecca is a mother of two children, Lillie May, nine and Karl, seven, and although she is quick to praise X Factor and all that it has helped her to achieve, she says that during the “hectic” early days, her family commitments meant that she wasn’t able to really enjoy the experience. It is only now that she feels that she really has a handle on her work/life balance.
When asked what her advice would be for this year’s finalists, it is this that she is quick to highlight. “I would tell anyone coming into this industry to try to enjoy every minute of it, and really take the time to experience everything fully.” Of the time she is due to spend in Bournemouth in March, she says that thanks to the few day’s break that she now allows herself in between tour dates, she will really be able to appreciate the area. “I hope to be able to walk around and see the sights, and also try out a few local restaurants.”
Since rising to fame, Rebecca has parted ways with her management company, a decision which she is unwilling to delve too far into, but she does say that she “felt pressure from certain people, which started to change me as a person.” Her first album, Heaven, was a staggering success, selling over a million copies worldwide, a result which she says was completely unexpected. “The last two years have been quite a journey for me, and I’ve learnt a lot about myself. I think I was so surprised at the success of my album that it took me quite some time to absorb it all.”
Of her sudden rise to fame she says, “it took me a long time to get used to the fact that people were praising me so highly as an artist. I wasn’t sure that I deserved it, especially after just one album.” Rebecca thinks that the reason she found it all so hard to take was because of her upbringing. “I had a tough past in Liverpool and learnt to take a lot of knocks, so I’m always quite wary of praise...scared that I’ll be knocked down again straight afterwards.”
Whilst following her dreams has not been the easiest journey for Rebecca, she credits her two children for giving her the courage to work harder, study and never give up. “I’ve been through a lot”, she remarks, somewhat quizzically. “I was such a timid, shy person, but I soon realised that this was a huge hindrance, as I was misunderstood, and I’m now saying to everyone that it’s ok to stand up for yourself. That’s what I’m doing now for the first time, and it really has transformed my life.”
Rebecca says she’s now doing “normal” things that she should have done years ago, such as learning to drive, and becoming a better cook – she cooked the Christmas lunch this year by herself for the first time.
When asked about any celebrity friends she might have, she says that model Abbey Clancy, (married to footballer Peter Crouch), is probably the most famous of them, but the pair have known one another for years as they grew up together, sharing the same group of friends in and around Liverpool. “She did so well on Strictly Come Dancing this season – I was so proud of her.”
As for her fellow X Factor contestants, the boy band One Direction, who have enjoyed phenomenal success since leaving the show, she says, “I could see it happening and their popularity building every week, as there were always loads of girls outside the studio.” And Rebecca says it was easy to see why: “They all have great personalities and are so funny, and they got up to loads of pranks all the time backstage – they’re very sweet boys.”
Quite apart from the starry connections, Rebecca says that the best thing about being a singer is the clothes. In her latest video for the single I Hope (above centre), Rebecca is wearing a stunning couture dress designed by Suzanne Neville, who makes gowns for the likes of Katherine Jenkins, Tess Daly and Anna Friel. “I love that dress, but it was really heavy...I’m delighted that I can keep it, and I am trying to get my hands on the gorgeous scarlet couture dress that I wore on the X Factor final”. But it’s not all glamour, she is quick to add. “The video for I Hope looks like it was shot in LA, but it was actually a little apartment in the Cotswolds”.
Far from being your typical starry-eyed celebrity, Rebecca always has one eye on her home life, and says that this inspires her to work harder. “Apart from my family, who are my number one, my gift is my voice and I’m so thankful for that – but I work for them. My new album sums up a whole range of emotions, but ultimately it’s all positive.”
So while her feet are, as they always were, firmly on the ground, the Rebecca Ferguson we’re going to see at the Bournemouth Pavilion on 18 March, (0844 576 3000; www.bic.co.uk), will have a stronger, feistier edge – and we think she’ll be all the better for it.