It’s been a roller coaster few years for Birmingham’s Relley C after she failed to make it past judges’ houses three years ago. Now it’s a whole new story as she’s preparing to take to the stage for her first live performance
It’s three o’clock when Relley calls me, her voice bursting with what I assume is a mixture of excitement and probably nerves. In the space of a few months, the 26-year-old has gone from heading to work as a housekeeper to flying out to LA to perform in front of Sharon Osbourne and Robbie Williams.
Of course I want to know how she’s doing, putting myself in her shoes for even a second would probably be enough to make me scratch my head and wonder how my life has suddenly turned upside down.
“It’s all kicked in now,” she beams. “Back home things are just so small and segregated, in London everything’s massive, it moves so much quicker here. Everything’s going really well at the moment,” she continues. “We’re all very chilled and ready to go for the weekend. At the moment I’m not to nervous but I know when it starts getting closer to the weekend I’m going to start feeling really anxious.”
It came as a bit of a shock when Relley suddenly popped up during Bootcamp, winning the judges over with her incredible rendition of Miley Cyrus’ We Can’t Stop. Yet 2013 was a completely different experience for her, as she found herself sent home after failing to win over Nicole Scherzinger at judges’ houses.
“I kind of look at that now as practice, obviously I was devastated when I didn’t make it to the live shows, but I just used all that energy and put it into what I love which is music,” she adds. “I started to do a lot of things myself – music videos, writing more songs and getting into the studio. I had to go back to work as a housekeeper which was hard, I had to push that for another three years. I’ve just stayed true to myself and now I’m getting the opportunity to go the full way and I’m really excited about it.”
Relley isn’t the first contestant to return to the X Factor and give it another go, take Wolverhampton-born Liam Payne, he too was given the boot at judges’ houses and came back stronger a few years down the line. And Relley says the support from people back home didn’t stop.
“Since 2013 I’ve had so much support from everyone in Birmingham, even when I went a little quiet on social media. People have given me so much positive feedback which really encouraged me to go back and give the X Factor another go.”
This year has turned out to be a completely different experience for Relley, she went on the wow the judges’ in the Six Chair Challenge, and earn herself a place in Sharon Osbourne’s final three. “The build up to judges’ houses was intense, she says.
“We got to go to L.A which was incredible, but obviously, we all couldn’t forget the real reason why we were there. We had a fun but we went our separate ways to really crack on, rehearse and make sure we got our songs nailed. Everybody wanted it just as much as I did, I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been for Sharon to sit down and make that decision.”
At home, we only ever see the polished version of the show, snippets of contestants anxiously waiting to discover their fate. “(Waiting to find out) was excruciating,” Relley says. “The whole time I was thinking what it was going to be like if I had to go back home and tell my family that I didn’t get through for the second time.
“There were so many things going through my head, but I just said to myself ‘what have I got to lose? I just need to go out, sing this song and do it like it’s the last time I’m ever going to sing'”
She needn’t have worried, her performance in front of Sharon and guest judge, Robbie Williams showed why she earned her place. “The performance was great, I wasn’t expecting to get the feedback that I had from Robbie at all. I didn’t know about all the positive things that he said to Sharon until I watched it back the other night, it’s quite inspiring to know that he thinks I’m good.”
Now, just one day away from live shows, Relley’s getting herself in the zone for her debut on the sparkling X Factor studio stage. “I’m constantly going through my songs, putting my own little spin on them and making them my own. I record them after my vocal training, so when it comes to live shows I knowmy song’s in my head.”
X Factor airs on ITV tomorrow at 8pm