Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Big Interview: Sam Bailey

Sam Bailey shot to fame when she won the tenth series of The X Factor in 2013.

Not only did her debut single ‘Skyscraper’ become that year’s Christmas number one, but Sam went on to support Beyoncé, headline The X Factor Arena Tour, write an autobiography entitled Daring to Dream and release her first album The Power of Love which topped the charts. 

Recently Sam has turned her attention to the world of musical theatre. Earlier this year she made a surprise appearance at Scott Alan’s London concert to perform ‘Anything Worth On To’. This Christmas she will appear in pantomime at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, starring as Fairy Bowbells in Dick Whittington.

Sam is currently preparing to play a one off West End concert at the Lyric Theatre on 12th October 2015. Directed by Katie Pesskin with musical direction by Michael Riley, the show will see Sam celebrate her love for musical theatre with some very exciting guests including Collabro, Michael Xavier, Scott Alan, Boys of the Barricade, Jaymi Hensley and Caroline Sheen.

I recently spoke to Sam about why she wants to celebrate musical theatre, what shows she’s seen recently, snogging Michael Xavier, meeting Scott Alan and venturing into the world of panto…

You’ve said this concert is completely out of your comfort zone but also something you’ve wanted to do for a while. Why did you decide the time was right now?
Musical theatre has always been a sense of relief for me because I started going up to London to see shows whenever I had any time off. I’ve become a massive fan! Coming off The X Factor, the window of opportunity for me was great. Not anyone can walk up to a theatre in London and say, “I want to put a show on” because no one would probably turn up… hopefully people will turn up to my one [laughs]. 

Sam winning The X Factor

What have you seen recently?
More recently I saw The Book of Mormon which is incredibly funny, Blood Brothers, Hairspray… I just love everything about musical theatre! I know more about new-age musical theatre, I haven’t been exposed to more classical musicals – the old stuff like Gypsy. My director, Katie Pesskin, has been introducing me to a few shows and songs. She suggested some things I should maybe look at, so I’ve been looking at inspirational people like Bernadette Peters and Elaine Paige and some of the songs they’ve sung.

Is that reflected in your set list?
Yes - we’ve put together a great set list! We’ve got some more classical musical theatre as well as modern musical theatre. I’m very excited because I know I’m going to enjoy it. They didn’t do musicals week on The X Factor in my year, so this is my opportunity to say “It’s musicals week on The X Factor and I’m going to be doing all of it!” [laughs]. 

Can you give any hints?
Well there’s some of my favourites; I’m a massive Les Mis fan and a massive Wicked fan. I think there are a lot of songs where people will go afterwards, “Where is that from?!” because there are some incredible songs in musical theatre that get hidden away. There are some buried treasures and I’m here with my metal detector to bring them out in my show. 

Sam performing at Scott Alan's concert
And you’ve got some very exciting guests!
I’ve got Jaymi from Union J, Collabro, Boys of the Barricade and a wonderful choir from the Guilford School of Acting. I also have some dancers as well as Caroline Sheen and Scott Alan!

I wanted to ask you about Scott. You made a surprise appearance at one of his London concerts earlier this year, how did that come about?
He is incredible! I had met Scott before, he became a massive fan of mine after I came off The X Factor, just via Twitter. Then I went over to New York earlier this year and we met up and had dinner with my children and my husband. He’s such a funny guy! He really is hilariously funny and so, so talented. He’s had a really tough time in his life and brings that all out in his songs, they’re so emotional. He literally shares his life through his songs and I love that about him. I’m going to be performing one of his songs so I’m very excited!

And then completing the line-up is Michael Xavier!
Oh my god… Michael Xavier… how am I going to cope [laughs]?! We’re singing a lovey-dovey song and I’ve had a lot of people offering to step in at the moment when we’re about to snog [laughs]. I’m not going to snog him because I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face! I’m not really good at stuff like that, so there are plenty of people who want to do it for me. I think I’m going to ask for the lights to go down at that point so then I can tell everybody that I did snog him when I didn’t [laughs]. He’s just incredible! How amazing is he?! He’s been in every single show you could possibly think of so the fact that now he’s doing my show is crazy!

Did you ever do any theatre when you were at school?
Erm… I did some panto when I was at college and musical theatre when I was at school but it was a long time ago and I was really crap at it [laughs]. I really was! I didn’t start to sing professionally until I was eighteen and it hasn’t been until recently, now that I’ve had some life experiences, that I’ve started to use my emotions when I’m singing. I think you know how to use that emotion more if you’ve been around the block a bit. I think, emotionally, I’m at the peak of that right now so hopefully I can bring that out with all the songs I’m going to be singing. 

Sam with Melanie Masson at the Aylesbury Waterside pantomime launch

Are you looking to go into a musical pretty soon?
Oh yes, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m a big believer of having your fingers in lots of massive pies and being able to dip from one thing to another. That’s how you have longevity in your career; you have to be able to do different things. If I can carry on providing for my family by doing lots of different things then I’m happy. Being in a musical is definitely on my bucket list! This concert is almost like a taster of that. We’ve invited a lot of people from the business who will see me in a different light. It’s going to be fun – if I screw up I screw up!

You won’t screw up!
Well it’s going to be a bit more panto – my director will probably kill me for saying this, but I want it to be fun and I want people to be able to see me up there. Not just my character. It’s hard when you’re not dressed up as a character with the set and everything. There needs to be a bit of me in there so I want people to have fun and laugh when I laugh and see me sing some songs they won’t have heard me sing before.

Sam at the Dick Whittington launch
Talking of panto, this Christmas you are heading off to the land of Dick Whittington!
Oh no I’m not!

Sorry – that’s such a sad joke! I’ve been doing that on people all week! Yes I’m doing panto in Aylesbury. I’m very excited because I’ve just sorted my digs out so I’m ready to get going. I did a pantomime when I was at college and I played one of the ugly sisters… this time I’m playing a fairy – but I’m a tomboy [laughs]. It’s going to be quite funny; I’m wearing a massive dress with a wand but will put on my football shorts underneath. I’ve got a great script, I haven’t been given the whole thing yet but I’ve got just enough to edge me in to panto world. First Family are a great company to work for, they’ve been nothing but accommodating for me so I’m very excited to be doing it! 

Right – this is the killer stagey question we ask everybody. I’m sending you to a desert island and you can take three musical theatre songs with you. What are you going to take and why?
I would take ‘For Good’ from Wicked because it’s a beautiful song about friendship. It would make me think of all my friends and I just love it! I would probably take ‘It Sucks To Be Me’ from AVenue Q because if I was on a desert island it would suck to be me [laughs]. That’s a good one to take, right?! Finally I would go for ‘A Little Fall of Rain’ from Les Mis.

Finally, what’s it like to have so much dedicated support behind you? Your fans will come along and support you no matter what you’re doing and where you’re doing it!
It’s really nice! I want to get them a mini bus to help them out a little bit! I have got some very dedicated fans. I’ve got fans who have had my song lyrics tattooed on to them and fans who just want a cuddle every time they see me. I have had a lot of crap in the press with people saying, ‘Where is she now?’ and last week I took a lot of flak because of some comments I made about Rita Ora, but my fans all stick up for me. I’m not one to be nasty about anyone. The comments I made about Rita weren’t nasty, they were just twisted slightly. My fans know me so they know that; they were sticking up for me and saying I don’t have a bad bone in my body. They are really nice, there are some fans I class as friends now and we hang about together. I’m not unattainable as a celebrity. I suppose my fans are the people who keep me going, so I’m very grateful to all of them!

Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Sam Bailey plays the Lyric Theatre on 12th October 2015.
Please visit www.nimaxtheatres.com for information and tickets. 

Photo Credit 1: Joseph Sinclair
Photo Credit 3: Darren Bell

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