X Factor UK's Rebecca Ferguson to perform in Dubai
Unusually for an X Factor contestant, Rebecca did not take to the spotlight with ease. (Facebook)
Setting out on the rocky road to make a living from singing and show business is never an easy option. But when you're a 23-year old recently qualified legal secretary and mother of two young children, record executives will tell you it's near impossible.
This is where Simon Cowell's Saturday night talent search behemoth X Factor comes in. Offering opportunities to those who traditionally may have been shunned by producers, Liverpool's Rebecca Ferguson entered the UK's seventh series of the competition in 2009 with six previous and sometimes unlikely winners to look upon for inspiration.
"It's like a boot camp," said Rebecca when asked to recount her first days on the show. Speaking over the phone in preparation for her Dubai performance on Saturday, Rebecca continued: "Physically and mentally and every kind of way you can imagine, it trains you in the industry. If you don't survive it, you won't make it."
Unusually for an X Factor contestant, Rebecca did not take to the spotlight with ease. Chronic shyness hindered a few of her early performances, but with the right coaching that voice inspired by artists including Aretha Franklin and Amy Winehouse soon began to shine.
"I have great memories, but there is so much hard work people don't realise. You get up at four in the morning and back in at 2am. The next day you do the same. You live on a few hours of sleep. People don't see that. They think 'Oh she looks pretty' on the Saturday night. They don't see all the hard work behind the scenes."
In a year where the One Direction boys were fellow contestants, Rebecca eventually came second in the competition. Although, in the grand history of these programmes, it is often not the winner who goes on to achieve notoriety (One Direction placed third and the show was won by a singer named Matt Cardle).
Rebecca went on to release her debut album Heaven in 2011, which achieved critical success and peaked at number three in the UK charts.
But does life get any easier after weekly reality TV?
"It carries on! It's both the same. It's still exhausting as you have to keep working and trying to get your music out there.
"I'm a little bit more chilled now. As it develops you get more of a say. We (artists) do get an amazing life, so we can't really complain."
Welcoming her third child, Arabella, in late 2014, the now 29-year old single mum has more on her plate than ever.
Coming to Dubai for the second time on Saturday to put on a show at the Fairmont Dubai's Bagatelle Bistrot, in the middle of producing a new album and taking care of three kids is understandably demanding. Rebecca has had to postpone a UK tour until the end of the year as a result.
"I've put my heart and soul into this new album. I want it to be perfect and better than my previous albums. I can't have any distractions," she explained. "I need to focus. It works out better all round."
On her work/ life balance she was as equally unequivocal.
"You're just extra tired if you have a family too. Arabella is sick at the minute so I'm up all night.
"It's tiring, but you just find the right balance and spend as much time with your kids as possible."
Concluding on what she has planned for her Dubai set, Rebecca hinted that a few new tunes may be on the cards.
"I might try a new track out on Dubai first. We'll see."
By David Light
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