Hannah Barrett captured the hearts of four X Factor judges, and the nation, last night.
Tonight, the 17-year-old from Croydon who was kicked out of home by her own mother and now has to fit in a part-time job in Greggs (“You get to eat a lot of pasties and donuts”) with her A level studies, features on the ITV1 programme again, this time as she auditions in front of an arena audience of thousands.
In the opening show of the X Factor’s 10th series, Barrett faced a room audition before the judges, Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger, and even before she sang, she was reduced to tears as she was asked about her background.
“This audition today means a lot to me. This is a step to what I really want to do,” she said.
Asked to tell the judges “something interesting” about herself, the teenager’s first response was to mention her part-time bakery job.
But this programme is not just thrown together you know, oh no, and with further questions from Osbourne, Barrett told about her dream of becoming a professional singer, and of her difficult family circumstances.
“My dad, who passed away a couple of years ago…” she paused, hesitant as she remembered her father. “He was my inspiration to do music. From a young age he was showing me the artists like Teddy Pendergrass and Aretha Franklin.
“My mum, yeah… she’s supportive of me. We have a tough relationship… Sorry,” Barrett paused again, to compose herself. This was becoming difficult for her. Tears were coming; and they were not only the teenager’s.
“Me and my mum don’t really get along, so it ended up me and her butting heads and eventually I was kicked out. So now I’m basically on accommodation for young teenagers.”
“And you’re happy there?” asked Osbourne, having taken on the role among the panel of doting grandma.
Barrett had become a little calmer by now. “I’m happy being there, but… it’s not home.”
The girl had already charmed the judges, and the many millions in the TV audience.
Now, through all her emotions, she had to sing, and to sing like she had never sung before. And that she did.
Emile Sandé has surely never delivered Read All About It with such conviction and passion as Hannah Barrett delivered a sparse, meaningful version of the song as broadcast in her audition last night.
“It’s one way to just sing a song. But it’s another thing to really to tell the story of a song through your performance,” said Gary Barlow (not to be confused with the little-remembered Croydon Central MP). He told Barrett she had delivered a “stunning performance”.
“I kinda wanna be the UK’s sweetheart,” Barrett said. Last night’s performance took her a long way towards that.
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