ESSENCE.com's "New and Next" column spotlights the brightest new talents we think you should know. This week we meet British soul singer and "X-Factor UK" runner-up, Rebecca Ferguson.
Who is Rebecca Ferguson? A runner-up on season seven of the UK version of X-Factor, Rebecca Ferguson blew audiences away with her vintage-soul sound. Though she didn't go on to win, she did pick up a load of fans, including Adele, who became an instant fan and admitted to voting for her a record 80 times. A year later the 26-year-old singer released her debut album, Heaven, in the UK to much fanfare. To date the album, which relies heavily on her retro-soul and Motown influences, has gone double-platinum in the UK, and is readying for a U.S. release on May 29th.
All this success has been sudden and unexpected for the Liverpool-born single mom of two who struggled with her confidence because of the shame placed on teen mothers. "I think there’s such a negative tone about children and people often feel like they can’t get up and they can’t do what they need to do," Rebecca tells ESSENCE.com. "I just really pursued my dream and I’m hopeful in the long run that I’ll be giving me kids the best life from this."
Who she sounds like? Rebecca's deep and soulful voice has garnered her the obvious comparisons to Adele, which she says, is the ultimate compliment. And then there are those other comparisons to the Queen of Soul, ESSENCE Music Festival headliner, Aretha Franklin, which she just finds utterly unreal at this point in her career. "I don’t feel ready to be compared," Rebecca tells ESSENCE.com. "I feel flattered, but at the same time I’m like, 'I’m not there yet.' One thing's for sure, like Aretha and Adele; Rebecca is also a gifted songwriter. She penned all of the tracks on her album, a process she calls "painful."
"It was really emotional," she says. "Some people come out of the studio and say, 'I wrote this album and it was so fun for me.' I’m like, 'No, I cried.' I had to live out the experiences because the things I was going through were painful."
Where you'll see Rebecca next: Get ready for lots of TV performances as Rebecca makes her U.S. tour in support Heaven.
Watch her video for "Nothing's Real But Love" and let us know what you think: