Monday, December 15, 2008

Islandista rising: X-Factor champ Alexandra Burke

[caption id="attachment_446" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Alexandra Burke (left) celebrates her victory with X-Factor mentor, Cheryl Cole of Girls Aloud.Photo credit: Rex Features"]Rex Features[/caption]

Alexandra Burke - remember the name people because she is going to be big - Simon Cowell said so!

And if the word of the X-Factor/ American Idol impresario is not enough for you, in the last 24 hours, Burke, the winner of UK singing reality show X-Factor (which brought us Leona Lewis) has smashed the European record for fastest-downloaded single, with her cover of winner's single Hallelujah, moving 105, 000 copies in one day. The previous record was held by - you guessed it, Ms. Lewis herself who moved 82, 000 for A Moment Like This.

Already Cowell, whose Syco label has the rights for all X-Factor winners, is salivating at the prospect of taking Burke to the world and making her as big a star as Leona, who is the biggest genuine pop star to come out of Britain in at least a decade. He had predicted some time back that she would win and win she has, stepping through the door that Lewis opened in 2006 when she became the first non-white reality show winner in the United Kingdom.

British-born Alexandra is an islandista by descent on both sides - her mother, former Soul II Soul lead singer Melissa Bell is apparently half-Irish, half Jamaican-Indian (looking at pics of her, I suspect Ms. Bell's father may have been a dougla rather than full Indian) and her father David Burke is Jamaican-born. 

Just a few months ago, Alexandra was a part-time waitress and club singer, earning 200 GBP per gig. Despite her mother's stardom in her younger days, the family was far from wealthy, due in part to the fact that Alexandra's father left the family when she was 7 and also due to her mother's diabetes in recent years which has resulted in kidney failure and her needing dialysis three times a week. In fact, she rescheduled her dialysis on Saturday night so she could be at the X-Factor finals to cheer on her daughter. Alexandra has said one of the first things she would like to do is buy her mother an at-home dialysis machine so she would not have to spend so much time going to the hospital for treatment every week. Definitely touching.

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