X Factor star Ella Henderson: '2012 was busiest but best year of my life'
IMAGINE waking up one day and realising you're a superstar. That is what happened to Tetney girl Ella Henderson who reached the dizzy heights of stardom almost instantly when her incredible X Factor audition was aired on television. However, it's been a long road to get to where she is now and in her mind, she still has a long way to go. Reporter JAMES DUNN talked to Ella about 2013: The X Factor Live Tour, her first album, learning to drive and plans for a concert in the Grimsby area.
ON SATURDAY, August 18, Tetney girl Ella Henderson's life changed forever when footage was shown on British television of her stunning the X Factor judges with a haunting performance of a song that she wrote herself.
The 16-year-old became an instant success and was the bookies' favourite to win the competition for weeks. Since then, things have been "pure madness and craziness".
Ella said: "It has been the busiest but the best year of my life. If I had to pick a highlight, I would have to choose the first audition. It was the first time the whole world saw me and I opened my mouth in front of so many people.
"The reaction I got hit me there and then and that was the moment I realised that I can do this – I really can have a career in music."
The last few months has been a roller-coaster ride for Ella. However, the real hard work begins now. Ella starts rehearsing for the X Factor Live shows next week and will begin recording her first album in March.
She said: "The X Factor Live Tour rehearsals start next week and the first show is in Manchester on January 26. There are 25 live shows between then and the end of March and I've only got two days off in total, so it's pretty hectic.
"These shows will give me great experience at singing live on a big scale so I'm really pleased to be involved. But right now, I am just glad to have spent a bit of time with my family at home for Christmas and new year after such a busy few months."
After X Factor Live, Ella begins recording her first ever album , having signed a deal with Sony at the end of last year. She has already begun meeting potential co-writers – but says having her own creative influence is very important to her. The label has told her that the plan is to release her first single by the summer and the full album by October.
Ella said: "I can't say who I will be working with yet because it's not all decided but the people lined up are the best in the industry. One of the best things about this album is that the label are really keen for me to use my own creative influence and tell people what I have to say.
"If I didn't get to be creative and write for myself then it would be like chopping one of my arms off because being an artist is the most important thing for me. Without writing my own music I would feel like a robot – that is not how I work.
"Last year was my big break but this year will be the most important. It will be the first time since the first audition that people will hear my original material. I have a lot of songs that haven't been heard but will be writing new music because I have learnt so much since August.
"This year will lay the foundations for my entire career. It's the year I will say 'this is who I am as an artist'.
"I'm really excited about getting into the studio, going back to basics with the piano and writing music. I look back at where I was when I left the competition and can't believe I am where I am today. I'm just thrilled to be in this position."
However, Ella admits that at such a young age, it will not be easy to make her own way in the cutthroat world of the music industry.
She said: "It would be so easy for someone my age to let people throw songs at me and just become a pop singer. I'm going to stick to my guns and stay true to myself. I have a really good team of people around me including my dad who is also my manager and goes with me everywhere, so that keeps me grounded."
When talking to Ella about recording an album, a future in music and touring the country, it is easy to forget that she is only 16 years old. On Saturday, January 12, she celebrates her 17th birthday so we asked her what a promising young star does at that age when not making music.
"Outside of music, there isn't too much to say. We will be rehearsing for X Factor Live on my birthday so I'm not sure what I'll do – maybe me and some other members of the cast will go out for dinner, but I'm not sure. After that, I will be trying to fit in learning to drive – on top of everything else. I don't have a boyfriend at the moment. The last few months have been so busy and the next year will be the same so I don't really have time for romance at the moment. It's not something I'm looking for right now as I'm trying to focus on my career."
Despite her new life in the music industry, Ella has not forgotten where she comes from. This year, she promises to return to the area to play a show for all the fans who helped propel her through the early stages of X Factor until her untimely exit in November.
Ella added: "One of my priorities this year is to come back and play somewhere near my home town. I'm trying to find a space to fit it in at the moment but we haven't confirmed a specific date. People here were so supportive – keeping me grounded and driving me through the competition.
"Since X Factor started I haven't really stopped, but at some point this year, I want to play a show for the people who have supported me from day one."