Rebecca Ferguson comes to our region on Saturday 5th November when she plays Cambridge Corn Exchange and again on Wednesday 9th when she is in Ipswich. We caught up with Rebecca ahead of these shows to chat about the new album, the show and how she got to where she is today.
A belated happy birthday Rebecca – not that you are old but does passing a milestone birthday bother you?
No age doesn’t bother me but wrinkles do and having to buy anti-ageing cream bothers me ’cause it’s not cheap! Other than that no, you know what because I am the happiest inside that I have ever been.
Now I read that you are a qualified legal secretary, is that true?
Yeah… not that I could type a thing, but I got distinctions by the way, now when I type an email its like a five year old types it. Its just pure laziness, you just wouldn’t believe that I am qualified, yes.
Does that mean that you have great fun reading your own contracts?
No, this is it. I have the qualification but I actually need help with my contracts.
Lets talk about X-Factor, you wouldn’t have got to here you are without it, yes?
No, I think X-Factor completely changed my life, in a good way.
Your audition song, if I remember rightly, was ‘Change is Gonna Come’ – did you ever imaging how big that change was going to be?
I didn’t no… but I always knew from a little girl that I’d be a singer. It was something I was very confident in as a child. It was something that wouldn’t leave me. I kept on tryin’ different things, I trained to be a councillor, I trained to be a beautician, I’d try everything and anything but nothing satisfied me. But I always knew in my heart that I was supposed to sing. I knew at some point it would happen but I didn’t understand what came with fame. I think I had an illusion of what it would be I suppose.
And of course the X-Factor that made you wasn’t your first X-Factor was it?
No I had a go at a lot, Britian’s Got Talent, X-Factor, Starmaker… I auditioned for so many different shows and I’d always not got through even the first round, just like the basic stages before you meet the judges, I never made it through and so I started to think that I wasn’t that good.
But surely you voice didn’t change that much, you were still the singer you are?
No but my presence did. I believe in timing as well, I believe everything happens for a reason and I believe in perfect timing. When I was going to do auditions before… I think sometimes you need to be humbled as well. I believe in being humbled, I think when I turned up and thought I’d sail through my first audition and I got a no and I kept on getting a no and it humbled me, so then in the audition when I got through, I was completely humble and I wasn’t thinking that I’ get through but having an idea to have fun – I wasn’t going to try and impress anyone, I will go with the sole aim of I’m going to have a good day. With that mind frame I got through. When you get told no, it affects how you think and it affects how you feel but I took the power away from that and thought whether you think I’m good or not I know I can sing and I am going to come here and enjoy myself. Hopefully you’ll enjoy me singing and with that mindset it changed how I went through the audition process.
And how happy we are that you did. It must take an awful lot of strength to keep coming back.
(Laughs) Yeah – I wouldn’t give up would I? I’d be like “I’m here again!”
So you always wanted to be a singer, what sort of music were you listening to before that final fateful day when you walked onto that X-Factor stage?
Everything really, I loved all music. It was never any particular genre, as long as it was good music I’d listen to it. Even melody and instrumentals, I just love music. Whatever was on te radio – I’d just flick through the stations and if it sounded good I’d listen to it.
Is there anyone else in your family musical or are you just the lucky one who happened to get that gene?
Not too musical, generally it was kinda me – yeah, I’d just annoy everyone singing really loud ‘roud the house and get told to shut up…
Now, as well as being a singer, you also have the most important job in the world, you are also a Mum to three lovely children. Do they go on tour with you?
They are, they are all coming with me this year because I am away for so long and I’m promo’ing my album so I didn’t feel comfortable leaving them. And I’m learnin’ as well because everyone always says ‘oh don’t worry, you’ve gotta work hard but it will calm down but it hasn’t calmed down! I don’t want to miss out on me kids, in an ideal world kids wouldn’t be on a tour but for my family it’s gotta work.
Would you ever recommend that they take to the stage?
If it is their heart to do it, then yeah. And I feel like I’ve learned all the hard lessons for them, so I can advise them – once you know what you are doin’ you are fine in this industry!
You have a new album out, your fourth but the tour is Lady Sings the Blues…
No, it’s not. It’s more like first album, second album some of Lady Sings the Blues and the new album – its going to be a compilation of all of my favourite songs I like to sing. Originally it was going to be Lady Sings the Blues but that wasn’t working and I said no.
What can the audience expect on this tour?
Just a positive, happy show, a good show, a lot of dancin’ – not from me, I’m not the best dancer but I’ll have a good go, I tend to get everyone up. I’m more relaxed on stage, I have a good laugh, I just want people to come and have fun, forget their problems for a day and have a laugh.
Talking about Lady Sings the Blues and the whole Billie Holiday project, did you know anything about Billy Holiday before someone suggested that you record this album?
I studied her in collage actually, she was one of my projects as a fifteen year old, I left school early to go to college, I remember think like, why have I been given this old woman to research and I remember having a good moan at the time. But I done my presentation to the class very poorly – but I was fascinated by her. I remember goin’ to their library and reading up on Billy and findin’ it facinating, there is a picture that sticks in my mind, she has got a big fur coat on, she looks really glamarous, and she has got these men around her, and I remember being fifteen at the time, being forced to study this woman and just shoutin’ at the book: ‘What are you doin’ woman? Why have you got these men usin’ you?’ I remember being so angry with her at the time.
But with age and life experience, because life doesn’t always treat you well, I think that when I had to re-study her for Lady Sings the Blues, I had more of an understanding of her as a woman. At fifteen I was a cool kid who didn’t have a clue about anything! When I read her autobiography I hadn’t realised how similar we were in some ways.
Did that make it easier to sing her songs then?
I only sang songs that meant something to me as well. She had so many songs that I only sang the ones that I could relate to.
The music industry is not easy is it, it can be quite intense?
It can be, you’ve gotta treat it for what it is, I think you can’t get lost in it, you’ve got to recognise that it is smoke and mirrors. As long as you keep your integrity it is fine, it is too easy to get swept away with the limelight and the first class and being treated nice. It is all lovely but you’ve got to remember what is real, for me that is my family, my friends and I have a belief that you can be up one minute and down the next. You just can’t let anything get to your head.
How then to you chill out, what is a typical ‘me’ day for Rebecca Ferguson?
Well it’s rare! With kids there is no rest, I’m normally runnin’ up the stairs after Isabella who has discovered the stairs. Today she covered herself in my nail varnish, she painted her toes and then managed to spill it all over herself – that wasn’t fun! That’s my average day – I’m just a normal Mum. But if I do get a time to myself I love a spa day – that to me is complete relaxation, but that happens only maybe twice a year!
Looking at your Facebook page I’m guessing it is you who manages that, you don’t have a team of social media executives working for you?
(Laughs) You can tell by the terrible spelling can’t you? It is so obvious! Yes, it is me, I am very personal on there, sometimes too personal and I’m not sure if that does me any favours, I’m not very professional – I had my beauty shop and I was like ‘Hey, come down on Saturday!’ and them my manager is saying but you have eight hundred thousand followers! Bit it is one hundred percent me, no doubt about it, it is Rebecca Ferguson!
Rebecca, you definetly come across as a very real person, not a diva and please don’t ever go down that route. Thank you for talking to us here at GrapevineLIVE and we are looking forward to your shows in Cambridge and Ipswich.