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She may have come sixth on The X Factor two years ago, but chart-topping Ella Henderson’s star shines brighter than other more ‘successful’ contestants.She tells Judith Woods why she believes getting voted off was the best thing that has ever happened to her HERE I am, waiting to interview Ella Henderson, that nice girl-next-door from the village of Tetney near Grimsby who didn’t win The X Factor. Two years have passed since a 16-year-old Ella Henderson came an unmemorable sixth in The X Factor that was won by James Arthur. Her first chart-topping single has proved to be an international hit and having had a preview of her breathtaking new album Chapter One, this is just the start. But is this her being controlled by unseen puppeteers or simply that, given a budget, a stylist and a big green light, every teenager alive would playfully transform herself into a butterfly, a rabble of butterflies, changing with every mood?But Ella appears to be running diva-ishly late and is nowhere to be seen. I’m growing up and feeling more comfortable with myself.Meanwhile, it’s terribly distracting in this achingly cool photographic studio. At 16 I would wear clothes that hid my body, now I’ve found clothes that fit me rather than cover me.You know the one: singer-songwriter, 1940s-style victory roll and vintage florals, just penned ‘Ghost’, one of the biggest records of the year. ‘Dressing up and doing photo shoots was a side of the industry I really didn’t think I would like,’ says Ella.Lovely lass, should have won, bookies’ favourite, big shock she didn’t. Hand on heart, I have to take a quick peek at Google Images to check this sassy, edgy, fashion-forward vision is the same girl. ‘But now I’ve got a glam squad, I love trying on new outfits and experimenting with different looks.So many people come into this industry and they forget to enjoy it; whatever you need, we can give it to you.However long the album takes, three months or three years, there’s no rush,” which was just what I needed to hear and really boosted my confidence.’Ella was asked to draw up a wish list of the producers and writers she would like to work with.
Most notably there was industry colossus Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds, winner of ten Grammies, who has worked with the likes of Madonna, Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, and Ryan Tedder, the streetwise frontman of One Republic and the writer behind modern classics such as Leona Lewis’s ‘Bleeding Love’ and Beyoncé’s power ballad ‘Halo’.‘It was like Hogwarts, but instead of magic it was all about music,’ says Ella.‘I had found a place where I fitted in; I realised I wasn’t gabby, I just loved to perform.From the moment she entered the audition queue back in 2012, there was something unusual about Ella – her charm, her offbeat quirkiness, her voice, the fact that she wrote her own compositions and had a poise rarely encountered in someone so young ought to have clinched the competition.
But she wakes up every morning feeling lucky that she didn’t.Her father Sean works in sales and marketing and now manages Ella.