EXCLUSIVE: X Factor's Sam Bailey on her early life in Bexley
PUBLISHED: 10:19 12 November 2013 | UPDATED: 10:19 12 November 2013
When X Factor finalist Sam Bailey was growing up in Bexley Village, she never dared dream of making it as a singer.
The mother-of-two says she was more into football as a child but her first musical memory was winning a ‘Search For A Star’ talent competition in Crayford Town Hall as a 16-year-old – even though singing was “more of a hobby” back then.
“I did go to Bexley Arts College but singing was not something that I was overly into. I did not see myself as a singer,” said Sam, who took time out of rehearsals with mentor Sharon Osbourne to speak exclusively to the Bexley Times.
“I do not know when I first saw myself as a singer - it was more of a hobby.
“We used to go on holiday to Great Yarmouth, and there I used to win the talent competition.”
Sam left both Bexley Arts College and Dartford’s Miskin Theatre – where fellow X Factor contestant Tamera Foster also studied - before leaving performing altogether.
“I chose to do music but I wanted to do a bit of everything in the end I left the Miskin Theatre because I had to choose one or the other,” she added.
In Saturday’s X Factor, the 36-year-old’s rendition of Frank Sinatra’s classic ‘New York, New York’ won her even more plaudits across the nation.
So how did Sam become “the one-to-beat” in this year’s X Factor competition 19 years later on from turning her back on singing? She is currently 11/8 favourite to pip her rivals to the X Factor crown, according to bookmaker William Hill.
“Well, last year was the first time that we sat down to watch the show altogether,” she says. “We were laughing at all the bad singing at the beginning then we got slowly more into it.
“During one of the ad breaks I just got my tablet out and applied.”
Clearly being thrown into the limelight overnight has not all been easy on Sam who is so often away from her young family.
She said: “It is tough. Last week I went home and picked my daughter up from school but she just wanted to go to the youth club. I was only home for one night.
“My little boy has asked if I will be home for Christmas. I just said: “Yes, of course.” They’re doing alright.”
Husband Craig Pearson has seen it all before when Sam worked in a Leicestershire prison before appearing on X Factor.
“We were like ships passing in the night then,” reveals Sam. “I was working a 41-hour week – he would have to cook my dinner.
“Anyone who works that many hours with two kids knows it is tough. You’re going to struggle to fit it all in.”
“I promised my other half that I would take him on holiday. I am going to really treat him.
“It is our 10th wedding anniversary soon and we’re going to go to New York and renew our wedding vows.
“I want to treat the kids too but I do not want to go overboard. I’ll take them to Harrods to see Father Christmas.”
And now, with just a month left until the show’s live final on December 15, Sam is starting to feel spotlight intensify.
“I do not know if I can take the pressure to be honest,” she admits. “I know how good the other singers are like but it is all about the public support.
“Everyone has got their game faces on – it is all about how that public vote.”