As a very small child Alexandra Imelda Cecelia Ewen Burke sang, had acting lessons and accompanied her mother Melissa Bell who was a singer with 90s hit band Soul II Soul. Although she would later achieve fame on the X Factor, a twelve-year-old Burke made her TV debut on a different talent show, the BBC's Star For A Night where she was runner-up to another future singing star Joss Stone. While the young girl's vocal talents impressed Stevie Wonder it was deemed important that she finish her education and only after finishing her exams did she set about pursuing her music career. Burke first entered the X Factor in 2005 and while she got as far as the final seven in the sixteen to twenty-four year old category, her mentor Louis Walsh did not put her through to his final four. Undeterred she took vocal training and continued to perform before reapplying to the X Factor in 2008 where she gained a place in Cheryl Cole's Girls category and eventually won the final where she was up against popular boy band JLS and singer Eoghan Quigg. The first fruits of her one million pound recording contract with Simon Cowell's Syco Music was her cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' which topped the UK charts over the Christmas period in 2008. Little was heard from Burke over much of the next year as she and various songwriters and producers including; RedOne, Stargate, Taio Cruz, Steve Booker, Ne-Yo, Louis Biancaniello and Chase & Status slowly crafted her debut album. Preceded by the UK No 1 hit 'Bad Boys' (featuring Flo Rida) Overcome
was released in October 2009, debuted at the top of the UK charts and eventually sold more than one and a half million copies worldwide.
Subsequent singles from the record included 'Broken Heels', 'All Night Long' (featuring Pitbull), 'The Silence' and 'Start Without You' (featuring Laza Morgan) were all big hits in Britain, the latter becoming her third chart topper. Riding high in the charts and the public's affection 2010 saw Burke winning numerous awards including Best Newcomer at the Glamour Women Of The Year Awards, Best Female Artist at the BT Digital Music Awards while the Urban Music Awards recognised her with Overcome winning Best Album 2010 and 'All Night Long' winning Best Music Video and Best Collaboration (with Pitbull.) After undertaking her first headlining concert series - The All Night Long Tour, she recorded her next album with the returning RedOne, StarGate and Ne-Yo plus new collaborations with songwriters and producers including Cutfather, David Gamson, Autumn Rowe and Ben Adams (a former member of the boy band A1). The first single from the forthcoming record was 'Elephant' (featuring Erick Morillo) which debuted at No 3 in the UK in March 2012 and was followed in May by 'Let It Go', which became her lowest charting single when it only peaked at No 33. A more dance orientated record than the pop direction of her debut Heartbreak On Hold was released in June of the same year and without the significant support of British radio it peaked just inside the Top 20. Burke continued to promote the album through live appearances, announced her split with Simon Cowell's company Syco and released the two track seasonal EP Christmas Gift that featured 'Silent Night', a track she had popularly performed during her time on X Factor and her own original song 'Christmas Time'.
Subsequently she made a prestigious first live performance in the USA when she took part in Chaka Khan's induction into New York's Apollo Theatre's Legends Hall Of Fame in 2013. Later that year she released her second EP, the six track #newrules which included 'Leave A Message', her interpretation of Coldplay's 'Fix You', 'Day Dream', 'Seduce You' (featuring Wretch 32), 'Bounty Hunter' and 'Try'. Burke has been vocal in her support for a number of charitable causes including Help For Heroes, Save The Children and Samuel L, Jackson's Shooting Stars while in April 2014 she digitally released 'Where Do Hearts Go' from her forthcoming third album with all proceeds going to Wellchild, a charity for which she serves as an ambassador. In June she took over from Beverley Knight in the lead role of the West End musical version of the 1992 movie The Bodyguard that starred one of her childhood inspirations, Whitney Houston. While there is little doubt that Alexandra Burke is a gifted singer who has built a significant fanbase, the history of previous talent show contestants is not good and time alone will tell whether she has the ability, tenacity and that something special to follow in the footsteps of popular fellow winners Leona Lewis and Will Young to enjoy the same level of success and longevity.
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