ABOVE: REBECCA FERGUSON
Rebecca Ferguson has brought her heart and soul over from the UK. After placing as the runner-up on the UK’s The X Factor in 2010, Ferguson got a record deal in both the UK and the US. Ferguson’s debut album, Heaven, is a summary of her relationship highs and lows over the years. We caught up with Ferguson while she was recovering from a broken leg, and discussed being a musician-mom, making music out of heartbreak, and comforting her listeners.
ILANA KAPLAN: What was the inspiration behind Heaven?
REBECCA FERGUSON: Basically my life until now, really. A lot of it was about relationships I’ve been in, the struggle in some of it and the nice parts about the past. I pretty much just channeled all of that and put it into the lyrics. A lot of it was about wanting to be a singer and wanting things to go well. A lot of it was about those moments and fairy tales.
KAPLAN: Did you ever expect to be discovered on TV?
FERGUSON: No. It’s funny—I had watched the show pretty much every year. There are so many people that audition for these shows. I didn’t expect to get as far as I got in the competition. I just feel really blessed. This completely changed my life. I’ve been able to do everything I’ve wanted to do since I was little. I’m able to provide for my family and the people that I love with things that I never used to be able to. I’m getting to make music and work with amazing people. I just feel really lucky. I’m just taking it all in.
KAPLAN: Who are your musical influences?
FERGUSON: I like listening to old soul music. I like Sam Cooke. When I was growing up, the first things I was listening to was Whitney Houston and Cher. They were really big inspirations for me.
KAPLAN: How would you categorize your music?
FERGUSON: People put a lot of labels on it, but I would say it’s quite soulful.
KAPLAN: What do you want your fans to get out of your music?
FERGUSON: My first album is a lot of my personal experiences. I wanted people to relate to what I’ve been through. With “Shoulder to Shoulder,” I wanted it to be a song that people listened to and could relate to and say, “You know what, I’m going through that with my boyfriend or husband. I know what that’s like.” I want to make music that inspires people and makes them think. Sometimes if you’re having a bad day, there’s one song that will make you feel better. That’s how I want my music to be. I just want people to enjoy it and for my music to inspire them.
KAPLAN: What’s one song that’s gotten you through a tough time?
FERGUSON: “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. I just think the lyrics in the song are just so powerful. The song is just a great reminder that whatever you’re going through, it can get better. I find that song to be really powerful.
KAPLAN: What are your touring plans for the rest of the year?
FERGUSON: I’ve got a European tour coming up. I’m not really sure, but I think I’ve got one in the next two months. I’ve also got something in America coming up, which will be amazing. I’ve got another European tour coming up too.
KAPLAN: You have two children. How has your success impacted your relationships with them?
FERGUSON: I’ve got two babies. It’s very hard and very challenging, because I went from being with them pretty much every day to having to be away. That was new for all of us. It’s been a new transition. The kids are really happy. We live in a lovely house, and we get to live a life we never used to before. We get to spend quality time together. It was really, really hard.
KAPLAN: Do your kids play music or sing?
FERGUSON: They sing my songs. They’ll sing my album around the house. They are really brilliant. They like music, but it’s too early to say whether that’s the road they’re going to go down.
KAPLAN: What’s been the biggest challenge for you as a musician?
FERGUSON: I think it’s being in the music industry, really. It’s a tough world to be in, as a woman as well. You have to be really strong in the music industry, and I’m naturally very timid. That was really hard for me. You have to be tough. You have to make decisions and be a businesswoman. For someone that’s naturally timid, that was very hard for me. I think I’m getting used to it now.
KAPLAN: Do you have any new songs in the works?
FERGUSON: I’ve recently broken my leg, so I’ve been at home writing songs up and recording melodies. I’m thinking of the next album now. I’m working on some melodies for when I can get back into the studio. I’m looking forward to it.
KAPLAN: How did you break your leg?
FERGUSON: I was out with friends, and I was walking on the floor. I slipped and fell. I’m just getting over that now. I have another two weeks in the cast, and hopefully I’ll be getting back to normal.
REBECCA FERGUSON’S DEBUT ALBUM HEAVEN COMES OUT TODAY NATIONWIDE.