Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1076

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Feature

Rebecca Ferguson: Soulful reflections

Rebecca Ferguson @bluesandsoul.com
Rebecca Ferguson @bluesandsoul.com Rebecca Ferguson @bluesandsoul.com

Known nationwide for her authentically-soulful, brooding vocals that saw her finish runner-up in the 2010 series of high-profile UK TV talent show âThe X-Factorâ, Liverpool-born-and-raised singer/songwriter Rebecca Ferguson this month releases her highly-anticipated debut album "Heaven" alongside its passionate, acoustic-guitar-accompanied lead-off single "Nothingâs Real But Love."

Interestingly, with "Heaven" containing all new material - all impressively co-written by Rebecca herself - the soul-drenched 10-track set finds Ferguson mainly hooking-up with sometime Adele/Duffy songwriter/producer Eg White, in addition to occasional studio collaborations with producer/songwriters Fraser T. Smith (N-Dubz/Tinchy Styder) and Jonny Lattimer (the man behind Ellie Gouldingâs âStarry Eyedâ). All of which results in its emotive musical moods ranging from the punchy, message-laden grooves of "Glitter & Gold;" and funky, fully-orchestrated "Fairytale"; to searingly honest ballads like the hauntingly vulnerable "Shoulder to Shoulder" and piano-accompanied, shimmering "Teach Me How To Love."

Indeed, despite her raw-but-stunning first audition on last yearâs âX-Factorâ singing Sam Cookeâs "A Change Is Gonna Come" (which has impressively had over 2.9 million views alone on You Tube) revealing Rebecca as the painfully shy, woefully under-confident mother-of-two she was at the time, today itâs nevertheless a bubbly and chatty - yet still likeably-humble and ânormalâ Ms. Ferguson - who meets up with âBlues & Soulâ Assistant Editor Pete Lewis for early-evening drinks at (appropriately!) Liverpool Streetâs upmarket Eastway Brasserie. Where she happily discusses - her soft-spoken, instantly-recognisable Liverpudlian tones occasionally punctuated by surprisingly big laughs (!) - her highly-anticipated new album and single; her deceptively tough route to eventually finding fame on âThe X-Factorâ; plus of course the highs and lows of her time on âthat competitionâ!

PETE: What did you mainly want to achieve with your debut album?

REBECCA: âThe big thing for me was to make an album that really RESONATED with people - a record they could connect to and get something FROM. Like, say, when I was writing a song like "Teach Me How To Be Loved," I was hoping people would listen to it and think âOh, IâVE felt like that when IâVE split up from my boyfriendâ⦠So yeah, lyrically I guess itâs mostly just me putting down in writing things Iâve been through in the past and life lessons that Iâve learnt FROM that - or, if I was going through something at the time, Iâd maybe write about THAT.â

PETE: Your main songwriting/production collaborator for the project has been sometime Adele/Duffy collaborator Eg White. What was your relationship like in the studio?

REBECCA: âThe reason I was relaxed enough to write most of the album with Eg was basically because heâs just someone I could really open up to and someone who totally got me as an ARTIST. Plus on a personal level I think heâs one of the most down-to-earth, humble, unassuming people you could ever MEET!

PETE: So whatâs the story behind the materialism-decrying message of the albumâs first single - the acoustic ballad "Nothingâs Real But Love"?

REBECCA: âItâs basically talking about how we get so concerned about stuff like money and cars that it overtakes our lives and we forget whatâs really important is FAMILY. I mean, I actually remember the day I wrote it with Eg. Something had upset me, and I was like âYou know, people just forget whatâs importantâ... And then I literally just said âItâs not your money, itâs not your car - itâs LOVE!â - and straightaway we were both like âOh, weâve got a SONG here!â!.. And, while I know it sounds cheesy, I genuinely do think those sentiments are TRUE! I mean, before I joined âThe X-Factorâ I was a student, I was struggling, I was trying to make a better life for me and the kids... And at the same time people would be saying âOh, money doesnât bring you happinessâ - and Iâd be like âWhatever - tell that to my empty FRIDGE!â⦠But then, after I came off the show, things started going well - I was getting paid highly for the gigs I was doing, I was able to afford things I couldnât before... But at the time I was thinking âNo, this isnât making me HAPPY - itâs my FAMILY thatâs always made me happyâ... And I still STICK by that! Because, while I do think all these other things are brilliant, ultimately whatâs important is LOVE!â

PETE: So, with you succeeding as runner-up on âThe X-Factorâ due to your singing talent alone, was it then difficult - on coming out of the competition - to persuade the powers-that-be that youâre also a talented songwriter?

REBECCA: âYes, that was hard. Because like the first couple of months after the show, people were automatically thinking âOh, sheâs out of âX-Factorâ, she wonât be able to writeâ⦠Whereas I was like âNo, I CAN write - Iâve been writing songs for YEARS!â⦠And so in the end it was actually Eg that championed it really. In that heâd sit people around the room, play them the music and say âLook, this girl can WRITE!â⦠Plus heâd be on the phone to the label or whoever, going âWhen she goes to that studio today make sure she WRITES - because sheâs BRILLIANT!â!... You know, he was really good in that way. And then from there various other writers started giving feedback to the label and to my management... To the point where the label eventually backed off and basically said âOK, weâre gonna let you co-write the whole ALBUM!â⦠Which is why you have the record you now HAVE!â

READ MORE OF REBECCA FERGUSON'S INTERVIEW IN OUR END OF YEAR PRINTED EDITION (CLICK TO ORDER BELOW)... WHAT DOES REBECCA THINK OF THE X-FACTOR AND THE PROCESS THAT HAS MADE HER A STAR + HOW HER TRIP TO AMERICA TO MEET P DIDDY DIDN'T GO QUITE TO PLAN.

The album "Heaven" and single "Nothingâs Real But Love" are out now, both through RCA
Words PETE LEWIS

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