When Alexandra Burke won the UK X Factor competition back in 2008, her career could have gone in a number of ways. She may have been a one-hit wonder like so many that fight their way out of the TV talent show machine, or she could have actually risen and become the star that she had longed to be. However, while we were all curiously trying to decide how things may pan out, the then 20-year-old Alexandra was still trying hard to fathom that she had actually won the competition. We chat to Burke shortly before the release of her sophomore album Heartbreak On Hold and start by asking her if she had ever expected to become as successful as she has. ‘No, not for a second. I didn’t even think I would have won the show to be honest with you. I am very grateful to the people who voted for me and supported me all the way through. I realise every day that I am a very lucky girl. I get to wake up every day and live this awesome dream and do what I absolutely love doing which is sing and perform. It has been amazing so far and it just keeps getting better’.
Back in March, we brought you our review of ‘Elephant’, the first single release from Alexandra Burke’s long-anticipated second studio album. It came out with a standard-setting five stars from us, and we proclaimed that the divine Alexandra was now a force to be reckoned with in the future. However, to talk to Alexandra Burke herself she still seems genuinely shocked by how much we liked it ‘Oh my gosh, thank you so much,I really appreciate that. I am really proud of that, and I feel extremely overwhelmed by that as well, so thank you’. Even after the launch of her second album Alexandra Burke still retains a much needed down-to-earth quality. This is indeed a breath of fresh air compared to the wide variety of self-serving reality ‘stars’ who are famous for nothing other than being famous.[pullquote_left]I think I am taking a few more risks with this new album, but I am definitely being true to who I am and trying to grow[/pullquote_left]Since her X Factor victory, and the release of her debut album Overcome, we have seen Alexandra go from strength to strength and watched as she developed her skills as an artist. Far from the young lady who crept on stage and sang ‘Hallelujah’, Burke’s style continues to evolve and change, though she still sees herself as a pop singer. ‘Well, for me, it’s not really been a massive change; to me it’s still pop and my voice is still soul. I am just taking elements of my childhood that really inspire me. When I say that I mean the 90s sort of style that is a bit ‘dancier’, a bit like Donna Summer and those kind of people who inspire me, but then do my own thing with it. I do feel that it is still pop, but at the same time I think I am taking a few more risks with this new album, but I am definitely being true to who I am and trying to grow’. Burke does still leave herself some goals that she would love to achieve, and still looks to develop and try new styles. ‘My dream is to do an acoustic album, so I am hoping that one day I will be able to do that because I would really love to do it’.
The now 23-year-old singer still remains deeply thankful for all the support she has had from her family and friends, as well as her increasing fan-base. ‘I have had the most tremendous and overwhelming support from them, particularly my fans and my friends and my family have always supported me from day one. But the one thing people forget as well is that I did promise my fans this album a year ago and the fact that they stayed loyal to me and supported me in that, because it did get delayed a couple of times. It’s just overwhelming to know that the support is still there, and I am so very grateful for that.’ When we talk to her about the new album, Alexandra speaks with a deep passion about her inspiration and her motivations in what she wants to bring to her listeners. ‘I will say that with this album, I wanted anyone who listened to it to feel uplifted, I want to make people smile. I want people to listen to my album and remember that they only live once, that you never know what tomorrow is going to bring. Also, even though it’s called Heartbreak On Hold, a lot of the songs are very up tempo, with only one ballad on there. I have also done some acoustic versions of some of the songs, so that people can listen and understand the deeper meaning behind them, and behind the whole album. At the same time though I do want to get people up and make them feel uplifted by the music, and make them happy. So that was the whole idea behind it, because I am a firm believer of the idea that if you are positive then positivity and good karma will follow you’.[pullquote_right]… I showed it to my parents and the rest of my family, and to see their faces when they were so proud, words cannot describe that feeling…[/pullquote_right]When you look past the albums and the fame, what you are left with is a girl for whom all her dreams seemed to come true. We simply had to know though, if there was a single moment in the rising star’s career which stood out, and made her the most proud of her accomplishments. ‘I am really proud of completing my first ever album, because I was that girl who thought that it was never going to happen, that it was just dreams. I just remember the day when I was sitting in my apartment and I held my first ever album in my hand. I read the thank yous and I read the inlay, I showed it to my parents and the rest of my family, and to see their faces when they were so proud, words cannot describe that feeling or the feelings that were going around in my house that day. My mum was in tears, my dad was in tears, and everyone was just really proud and I was proud of myself. That was a moment in my life that I will never forget’. Hearing the singer speak with such emotion about this moment makes us want to reach for the kleenex ourselves.
Given the wide range of TV shows that have been gracing our television screens over the years, it is easy to become complacent, and forget that they can actually make people’s dreams come true. When we asked Alexandra Burke what she thought about them she reaffirmed their importance to some young people who are just starting out. ‘These kind of shows are great because there are so many people in this world that can’t just walk into a record label and get signed. So it is amazing that there are these kind of shows, like X Factor, The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent around to help people and give them these opportunities and a chance to shine’.
Even after all this success, Alexandra is still committed to working hard to make her music the best it can be. Not even the release of a new album is enough to convince the dynamic young artist to take a holiday. ‘I think I am a bit of a workaholic, I think I will be mainly promoting the new album. I might take a week off at some point, but definitely not too soon. I just want to stay and keep working really’.
When we asked about her performances for a gay audience, the divine Miss Burke named her performances at G-A-Y to be a highlight on her calendar. ‘Performing at G-A-Y for me is always so much fun. I always have a blast and it’s a place I always look forward to performing at. It is also so great to see some of these faces as well, because there are some fans that I have seen who turned up to my first G-A-Y performance who are still there at the front!’. When the time came to end the interview we only had one more question on our lips, and that was to ask if Alexandra had anything she wanted to say to her LGBT fan-base. ‘I just want to say a massive massive thank you for all of their support, because I honestly don’t know what I would do if I did not have that support from them. I want to keep making music that will make them all smile and make them happy and will make them want to sing along’.