Meet Rebecca Ferguson, one of our two You Oughta Know artists for July and August. Hailing from Liverpool, the 25-year-old singer made her first big splash on Britain’s The X Factor‘s seventh season, where she won-over the usually salty Simon Cowell and placed second overall. Her successful showing subsequently earned her a record deal. And although her debut album Heaven only hit shelves stateside in May, the lead single “Nothing’s Real But Love” has already found its way to both the top of the UK charts and deep into our hearts. Ferguson’s belting recalls the classic soul of Aretha Franklin as well as that of the quirkier Macy Gray, but she cites also acts like Mike Posner and rockers Kings Of Leon as influences. Here are five things that make us proud to have her as our latest You Oughta Know artist:
1. Earning It On The X Factor
As she explains in her audition tape for The X Factor, Ferguson assumed her dreams derailed when she got pregnant at the age of 17. “I thought, well, maybe I won’t be able to become a singer. Who’s going to want me, now I’ve got a kid? I lost me confidence,” she shared through tears. Not yet ready to put aside her life long dream of being a singer, she climbed the audition stage and hasn’t looked back since.
For her audition, she sang “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and, oh boy, did a change come. Not even the notoriously difficult Simon Cowell could say no to a voice like hers. “You’re voice is totally on the money,” he said. “Let me try to restore that confidence for you,” he told her, sending her forward to reclaim her spirit as well. It was a long time coming, but she knew a change was going to come.
2. Her Duet With Christina Aguilera
For her duet, Ferguson was paired up with the iconic Christina Aguilera to sing the inspiring “Beautiful,” and more than holds her own. When she sings, “I am beautiful,” she she sounds like she means it. And when she sings, “Don’t you bring me down today,” it rings almost like a warning that she cannot and will not be brought down. A moment of restored confidence, if there ever was one!
3. Her Debut Album, Heaven
Ferguson came in second place on her season of The X Factor, earning herself a record deal and a loyal cadre of fans. She co-wrote the album so as to assure that she would connect with the material, and the hard work shows. Straddling R&B and soul and pop, the album digs deep, telling stories of love and betrayal, friendship and making up. It charted high in the UK, held off from the top only by Michael Bublé’s album Christmas and Amy Winehouse‘s posthumous album Lioness: Hidden Treasures.
4. Her First New York Show
Her first-ever New York performance left us stunned. Our own Robert Levy noted that, live, Ferguson is able to cast of the “long shadow of soul greats” and make a space for her new, more “Aretha B-side feeling and the Stones-y vibe” brand of soul. And then there was her awesome “Take Care” cover; clearly, with a voice like hers, genre is not matter.
5. The Video For “Nothing’s Real But Love”
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In the black and white video for her lead single, “Nothing’s Real But Love,” Ferguson turns her vulnerability to strength, belting from rooftops and train stations about the love that has enabled her to raise two children and to follow her dreams. She sings what she knows so well: “No money, no house, no car is like love.”
And, to really get you excited, here is a sneak preview of Rebecca Ferguson performing her “Nothing’s Real But Love” for You Oughta Know Live.
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