25th March 2014
“After the success of my debut album I went through a period of change which was both exciting and unsettling. As always, I turned to my record collection to help make sense of it all. But there was no one record that really seemed to express what I was feeling. Nothing seemed to capture my emotions at that time. So I started writing again and I made the record that I needed to hear.”
Rebecca Ferguson appeared on our TV screens as a painfully shy, woefully under-confident single mother of two. Her story of dignified resignation – pregnant at 17, then again at 19, with no money and little hope – struck a chord with the nation. It seemed that, like many, this was a voice destined never to be heard. Then she began to sing. Her stunningly raw rendition of Sam Cooke’s classic “A Change Is Gonna Come” set the bar for TV talent shows a million miles higher – and no one has come close since.
As Rebecca geared up to release her debut, the plaudits started to appear. Comparisons with her heroes – Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Macy Gray – were both hugely flattering and massively daunting. Radio 4 made her the first ever X Factor contestant to appear on their flagship Today Show; Adele voiced her unwavering support at every available opportunity, Graham Norton excitedly extolled her virtues whilst Lucien Freud muse and clubland icon Sue Tilley and her peers spread the word. Here was an artist who was truly world class.
It seemed a million people agreed. It is those people who have waited patiently for more music, aware that it would only appear when Rebecca was ready for it to appear, on her own terms and in her own time.
And now the wait is over – the follow up to “Heaven” is here. And if that remarkably assured debut showed a 24 year old struggling to make sense of her world, then the new album “Freedom” is the sound of a woman finding that, having waited so long to get on the ladder, she was no longer interested in dealing with the snakes. It’s the sound of an artist who makes music for the right reasons – because she has something to say.
So, how does Rebecca respond now when asked the question she used to answer with extreme embarrassment, head bowed – “do you realize how good your voice is?”.
The answer now is:
“It took me a long time to get used to the fact that people were praising me so highly as an artist. I wasn’t sure that I deserved it, especially after just one album. Coming from a tough past in Liverpool I learned to take a lot of knocks and also to be quite wary of praise, scared I’d be knocked down straight after. But now I do realize that, apart from my family, my gift is my voice and I’m thankful for that and I want to make great work. This album took a long time but…it takes as long as it takes. And it sums up a time and a whole range of emotions that I was going through, and I know a lot of other people go through similar things. And ultimately it’s positive. Everyone now goes on about their journey when they start their careers. I’m glad that this part of my life, as reflected in this album, has a happy conclusion. This album is made for anyone who believes in the power of music to bring us together”.