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Hallelujah! All Hail Alexandra the Great
By Ngozi Nwabineli

From the city that spawned numerous cultural, fashion, and artistic revolutions, comes another star export that is taking the world by storm. Alexandra Burke, the plucky 20-year old from London was twice lucky after seeing off popular boy-band JSL to win X-Factor?in December 2008. By doing so, she broke the European record for the amount of single sales in a 24-hour period (previously held by Leona Lewis -remember her?) as well as being the top selling song for 2008. As Fatboy Slim so aptly put it, ‘you’ve come a long way baby’ and boy, she has. This time three years ago, her dreams lay in tatters after being voted off the show losing to eventual winner, Shayne Ward.

Despite being the daughter of Soul II Soul singer Melissa Bell and singing since she was five, it was a while before Alexandra made any real headway, even though she was on the musical radar for some time.

At nine, she was performing with her mother in Bahrain. At twelve, Alexandra performed in the show Star For A Night and was beaten by Joss Stone. Yet, having sung to Jean Carne and to the great Stevie Wonder, one has to think that this diamond in the rough was going to shine big someday.

Her performances during X-Factor garnered praise from the judges and celebrities alike – from Mariah Carey who said she was “absolutely amazing,” to Louis saying that she could be the “British Beyonce." In addition to this, musical superstars have expressed strong interest in working with Alexandra in some form or another. After correctly predicting that she would win, the rapper 50 Cents has stated that he would like Alexandra to star in his video. Beyonce has also hinted that Alexandra may be the supporting act for her upcoming UK tour.

Not bad for someone who was bullied because of her passion and who, up until X-Factor, had no vocal coach or specialized training. Having “achieved a dream” the beautiful songstress is dismissive of those who would look to capitalize on their (vague) association with her stating in an interview that it is “negative energy that I don’t really concentrate on.”

You go girl!

Having eclipsed Leona’s previous and equally astronomical success, she has nothing but admiration for her X Factor predecessor saying, “if I could have an inch of Leona’s career I would be a very happy woman. She humbly plays down the comparison to Leona, instead citing her as an “inspiration.”

When asked by the BBC about her incredible journey, she sums it up by saying “I look back to the beginning of the year when I was very negative and felt nothing was going to happen for me and now we have reached December and I have a deal, I’m signed and I have a single in a short space of time.”

However the road to stardom was not easy. What kept her going? Her family. In particular, her brother who persuaded her to return to X-Factor telling her she had “nothing to lose.” She says of that period, “nothing was happening, I was still gigging…but I wanted to be recording. I wanted to be out there, I just never knew how to do it, I was so lost…” But fortunately for her, and for us, she found her way.

Dismissing her sudden celebrity status as “not real” Alexandra summarizes it all by saying, “I want to stay true to myself…I want to be who I am and not let anything change who I am” and let us hope, just as the ink dries on her new $3 million deal, she remains true to her word because in a world where the size of an ego sometimes eclipses the presence of any talent or common sense, we love her, just the way she is.

Moreover judging by these pictures, she has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of.