Index » Alexandra Burke » BIOGRAPHY
Alexandra Burke was born on 25 August 1988 in Islington, London and was named after her grandfather and great grandmother. She is the daughter of ex-Soul II Soul singer Melissa Bell; her parents split up when she was 6. She has lived in Islington all of her life and has four brothers and one sister.
Burke started singing when she was just 5, and prior to The X Factor had no professional vocal training. At 9 years old she sang on stage in Bahrain with her mother. At the age of 12 Burke entered TV show Star for a Night where she was the youngest person in the competition. She was beaten to the number one spot by Joss Stone. At age 12 she also sang down the phone to Stevie Wonder. When Burke’s mother asked her to sing to Jean Carne, Jean was so impressed that she asked her to perform at her show the next night.
Burke left school after her GCSEs to pursue a career in music. Before her X Factor success, she had been working as a singer, gigging at weekends in clubs. She recently went on tour with “Young Voices”, a charity that raises money for children with Leukaemia, where she has performed at large venues such as The Royal Albert Hall.
Burke auditioned for the second series of The X Factor in 2005 (which was eventually won by Shayne Ward). She made it through to the final seven in Louis Walsh’s 16-24 category, effectively the top 21 of the competition; however, Walsh did not choose her for his final four, as he felt that she was too young for the competition.
Burke’s second bid to win The X Factor came in 2008. Falling into the “Girls” category, she was mentored by Cheryl Cole who selected her for the finals – a series of ten weekly live shows in which contestants are progressively eliminated by public vote.
On the first live show, Burke performed the Whitney Houston classic, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. For the second live show she covered “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson Five and was criticised by judge Simon Cowell, who called her a “copycat”. In week three, Big Band week, Burke performed “Candyman”, a Christina Aguilera song, and received her first standing ovation. For the disco-themed fourth live show, Burke performed the Donna Summer song, “On the Radio”. During Mariah Carey week on 8 November, Alexandra Burke and the other finalists met Mariah Carey for individual masterclasses, with Carey complimenting Burke on her voice. Alexandra Burke performed “Without You” and received a standing ovation from the judges who all gave her positive comments. Simon Cowell commented that “by any standard, that was just outstanding”. Following the show Burke’s performance was also praised by Carey who called her rendition of the song “absolutely amazing”.
In weeks 6 and 7, Burke received positive comments from the judging panel for her performances of Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful” and Take That’s “Relight My Fire”. Week 8 saw her replace Diana Vickers as the bookies’ favourite after performing Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and Beyoncé’s “Listen”, for which she received yet another standing ovation. In week 9, Burke performed Rihanna’s hit song “Don’t Stop The Music” and again received positive comments, with Louis calling her “the British Beyoncé” and Simon commenting “…We may be seeing the birth of a star here you’ve got it all, that was a great performance”. Diana Vickers was eliminated in the semi-final.
Alexandra Burke was joined in the grand final by Irish teenager Eoghan Quigg and boyband JLS. She sang “Listen” as a duet with Beyoncé, and after performing with the American singer proclaimed, “I have achieved a dream”. After the elimination of Eoghan Quigg she sang what would become her debut single, a Leonard Cohen-penned song “Hallelujah”, for the first time. Finally, with over 8 million votes cast in total, Burke was revealed as the winner with 58% of the final vote (in comparison, previous winner Leona Lewis won 60% of an 8 million vote). It was announced on BBC Radio 1 on 14 December that Burke received one million more votes than second place JLS.
Simon Cowell announced before the final that 500,000 pre-orders of the winner’s single had already been placed.